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Ingrown nail

What is it?

The ingrown nail occurs when one of its corners buries into the skin around them. This happens because the skin forms a barrier to their growth and, as the nail continues to grow and is harder than the skin, it punctures it causing pain and inflammation.

The cause is usually the wrong habit of cutting the corners of the nails. This forms a sharp point on the side of the nail and allows the skin that was previously held under the nail to protrude upward and form a barrier in front of it. With the nail growth, it punctures and penetrates the skin.

The use of fine-tipped shoes also facilitates the ingrowing nail by compressing the skin in the toe's sides against the nail.

Characteristics and symptoms

The toes are more often affected than the fingers, especially the "big toes". The condition starts with local pain that increases in intensity and can become unbearable.

Skin around the nail becomes inflamed, swollen and reddish, with possible elimination of pus and formation of a pyogenic granuloma, the red and spongy area seen in the photo below.


To prevent the ingrowing of the nails, one should never cut the corners, keeping the tips free. Toenails should be cut straight. Avoid cutting the nails too short, always leaving a small strip of the free edge (white part). Avoid wearing tight footwear.

Treatment varies with the intensity of each case. From simple measures such as separation of the inflamed skin from the nail with a cotton wad to surgical procedures to remove the inflamed tissue or destroy the nail matrix at the corner.

The extraction of the nail should be avoided because, when it re-grows, it can penetrate the skin again. Surgical treatment aims to unblock the passage of the nail, which can then grow freely.

In case of secondary infection, the use of antibiotics may be necessary. The pyogenic granuloma should be destroyed by chemical cauterization or by electrocoagulation. The ideal treatment for each case should be determined by a dermatologist.

Related articles

- Pyogenic granuloma
- Onychomycosis

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