Dott. Simone Gabbanini
What are ingrown toenails?
Onychocryptosis (from the Greek hidden nail) commonly called ingrown nail, is a painful condition that occurs when the edges or corners of the nails grow into the skin near the nail. This causes swelling and pain and can lead to an infection of the edge of the nail which can spread to the skin and bone. It is a fairly common disorder and is estimated to affect 2 to 5% of the population. It generally occurs in the feet, rarely in the hands, and the finger most prone to this pathology is the big toe.
What are the causes of ingrown toenails?
The causes that favor the onset of ingrown toenails are many. One of the main ones is the incorrect way in which toenails are cut. In fact, it has been shown that smoothing the nails laterally, rather than leaving a straight edge, promotes their growth inside the skin, tearing it and causing infection.
Other factors that help the onset of the phenomenon are:
- Using too tight footwear that puts a lot of pressure on the big toes
- Irregular, thickened and curved nails (frequent in old age)
- Bad posture
- Injuries such as falling heavy objects on the toenail
- Repeated trauma such as running sports, or repeatedly kicking a soccer ball
Another non-negligible cause is improper hygiene such as, for example, not keeping the feet clean and dry, especially in the case of excessive sweating, a condition that often occurs in adolescents.
How does the ingrown toenail manifest itself? And what are the symptoms?
It is not entirely clear whether the determining event is abnormal nail growth inside the skin, or whether it is an excessive proliferation of the skin in contact with the lateral surface of the nail.
In any case, the result is too close contact between the nail and skin fold, resulting in a painful manifestation that increases if you walk or wear shoes. Initially, the affected finger is swollen and red. If the inflammation lasts for a long time, skin hardening, bacterial infection with discharge of purulent material and the formation of excess crust granulation tissue may develop.
How are ingrown toenails diagnosed?
The ingrown toenail is easily recognizable by the podiatrist, so the diagnosis is extremely simple. Only in some cases may an x-ray be necessary to show how deep the nail has grown into the skin. An x-ray can also reveal, if the ingrown toenail was caused by an injury, that there are no fractures in the bones of the foot.
How to cure an ingrown toenail?
Turning to professionals and avoiding DIY is certainly the best way to go, however, based on the severity of the condition, two lines of treatment can be followed:
- In less severe cases when the problem is superficial and there is no pain or pus, the treatment is mostly conservative and involves numerous foot baths in very hot water, the daily application of an antibacterial, wearing loose or open footwear, cutting nails correctly, avoiding rounding the edges, treating excessive sweating or any onychomycosis. You can also exert traction through the use of gauze on the nail plate in order to distance the edge of the nail from the skin and thus reduce pressure and pain.
- When the ingrown nail grows deeply into the skin, creating infection, pain and other complications, it is necessary to resort to an avulsion operation, i.e. partial or total surgical extraction of the nail plate, or removal of the excess skin overlying the lateral nail fold. reducing the pressure on the nail.
How can it be prevented?
The useful tips to prevent the onset of ingrown nails are the same as those to be implemented in the case of onychocryptosis already present. One of the best is undoubtedly to cut your nails correctly, so avoid shortening them too much and make a horizontal cut, never rounded.
Other useful behaviors and precautions consist in wearing comfortable and not too tight footwear, maintaining proper personal hygiene by washing your feet daily, drying them carefully and changing socks frequently. Prefer socks in natural and breathable fabrics, avoiding if possible those in synthetic fabrics.
Daily foot hygiene is certainly a very useful practice in the prevention of ingrown toenails.
In particular, four products studied in the BeC laboratories have proved to be extremely effective in the treatment of this condition and lend themselves to being included in a routine of daily use:
Run a foot bath for about 10 minutes with very hot water in which you have added Liquido Sanitizzante L.S. This product, thanks to the presence of precious essential oils such as Lavender, Thyme and Lemon, has a profound antiseptic action.
After thoroughly drying your feet, use a few drops of Olio Essenziale di limone with a high antifungal and anti bacterial action to prepare the skin for the action of the next treatment.
Apply the Crema Balsamo C.R.B. to the affected area. with soothing and anti-inflammatory action thanks to the presence of essential oil of Matricaria Chamomile.
Apply Crema C.R.P. all over the foot for a feeling of freshness and relief.