An ingrown Fingernail (also known as onychocryptosis from Greek:onyx, “nail”) is a common form of nail disease. It is an often painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts into one or both sides of the paronychium or nail bed. While ingrown nails can occur in the nails of both the hands and the feet, they occur most commonly with the toenails (as opposed to fingernails), and for the most part are only problematic and painful on the big toe.
A common conception is that the nail enters into the paronychium, but an “ingrown Fingernail” can simply be overgrown toe skin. The condition starts first from a microbial inflammation of the paronychium, and then a granuloma, which results in a nail buried inside of the granuloma. A true ingrown toenail is caused by actual penetration of flesh by a sliver of toenail.
Ingrown Fingernail Infected
Hangnails commonly occur on the fingernails and are sometimes also found on the toenails.
The following symptoms suggest a hangnail is infected:
- a warm feeling
- some bleeding
- a pus-filled abscess at the nail edge
Bacterial infections can produce symptoms almost immediately, while fungal infections may take longer to appear.
Symptoms Of Ingrown Fingernail
An early sign of the ingrown toenail is redness or swelling of the skin at the nail’s edge. In babies, the toe may become tender and may even turn painful. The pain may be evident when the toe gets rubbed by a shoe or a tight sock. Your baby may cry or pull at her foot or toe. She may even limp while walking.
According to Katherine O’Connor, pediatric at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, “The area at the edge of the nail starts to get raised. It usually starts out flesh-colored but can gradually gets red and painful.”
Ingrown Fingernail Treatment
A hangnail can be treated at home using the following steps:
- Warm water soak. Soak the nail in warm water for 15 minutes up to 4 times a day. This increases blood flow and cleanses the area.
- Trim the hangnail. When the hangnail is soft from soaking, trim the edges to prevent it from catching on anything, and to reduce the risk of further infection.
- Moisturize. Moisturize the affected area to stop it from drying out. This can prevent more hangnails from developing.
- Medicinal creams. Applying small amounts of antibiotic or antifungal cream, depending on the cause of the infection, can speed up recovery. A doctor may also recommend topical steroids.
If the hangnail develops an abscess or starts producing pus, it may need to be drained to stop the infection from spreading. This procedure should be done by a medical professional.
To drain an infected hangnail, a doctor will:
- Numb the area.
- Lift the nail fold with an instrument to allow the pus to drain away. A surgical incision is rarely necessary.
- Wash the area thoroughly.
- Place a gauze strip into the abscess. This stays in the wound for 24-48 hours to help the area drain.
- Prescribe an oral antibiotic.
The dressing and gauze should be removed within a couple of days. A person should then soak their nail in warm water up to 4 times a day.
People can also use the RICE method to reduce pain and swelling. The acronym RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Taking over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatories can also help.
Preventing Ingrown Fingernail
Taking care of your feet will help prevent foot problems such as ingrown toenails. It’s important to cut your toenails properly (straight across, not at an angle or down the edges).
Wash your feet every day, dry them thoroughly and use foot moisturiser. You can also use a foot file or pumice stone to remove hard or dead skin.
Wearing shoes that fit properly will help to ensure your feet remain healthy. You should also change your socks (or tights) every day.
Visit your GP or a podiatrist as soon as possible if you develop problems with your feet.
Baby Ingrown Fingernail
Taking care of baby’s overall health and hygiene is very important. This means that nails become an important part of the care taking procedure as they are home to many microbes. Your baby’s toenails may need some special attention from time to time and you should be aware of ingrown toenails which can cause severe discomfort to your baby. MomJunction brings you some important information on ingrown toenail in babies and some recommendations on taking care of those little things.
Causes Of Ingrown Fingernail In Babies
- Cutting Nails Wrong: Nails that are trimmed too short into the skin and deep, tend to grow inward. Cutting nails in a curved shaped rather than a straight across, increases the chances of developing an ingrown toenail.
- Tight Socks and Shoes: The most common cause of ingrown toenails is a baby wearing tight-fitting or very short socks or shoes. These tend to apply force on the toenail and toe into each other.
- Injury: If a baby can lose a nail or part of it due to an injury, the new nail may grow into the skin.
- Stress On Toe: Repeated stubbing of the toe may lead to an ingrown toenail.
- Infection: An infection too may cause a toenail to grow into the skin. Fungal infections of the nail may lead to the development of widened or thickened toenail.