Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows into the surrounding flesh of the toe causing redness, swelling and discomfort. Any toenail can become ingrown, but it’s the big toe most often affected. Sometimes a poorly cut toenail is to blame – nails should be trimmed straight across, not rounded. In other cases, a genetically wider or more curved nail causes the issue.
Ingrown toenails might occur for other reasons. In some cases, tight-fitting shoes or high heels compress the toes together encouraging the nail to grow crooked. A fungal infection can make the toenail wider and thicker causing the issue. Any activity that damages the toenail (such as soccer or running) can also begin the process.
Depending on the severity, ingrown toenails can be quite painful and should be treated to avoid infection or worsening pain.