Ingrown Toenail (Onychocryptosis)

  • Medical Author:
    Kyoung Min Han, DPM, AACFAS

    Dr. Kyoung Min Han is a podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) practicing in Southern California. Dr. Han completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, San Diego, and went on to the New York College of Podiatric Medicine to pursue her medical training. She returned to her native Southern California to complete a three-year foot and ankle surgical residency, followed by subspecialty training in a sports medicine fellowship.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideNail Color and Texture: What Nails Say About Your Health

Nail Color and Texture: What Nails Say About Your Health

What causes infections in ingrown toenails?

The warm, moist environment of the feet can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. These commonly include Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, dermatophytes, Candida, and Trichophyton. When there is a break in the skin from the offending nail border, these organisms can invade the area and cause an infection. Treatment for these infections is essential to maintain healthy toenails and feet. The medical term for infected ingrown toenail is called paronychia. If not treated, the infected toenail can cause serious problems such as chronic pain and disfigurement, cellulitis, and bone infection.

What are ingrown toenail symptoms and signs?

Ingrown toenail symptoms and signs include redness, pain, and swelling. Sometimes there may be a clear yellowish drainage, or if it becomes infected, pus drainage. Young children may show signs of limping in order to avoid putting pressure at the ingrown toenail site. Occasionally, ingrown toenails resolve without treatment. A podiatrist should treat painful, persistent, and recurring ingrown toenails. If the ingrown toenail has been present for a long time, a very vascular tissue called granulation tissue may form that easily bleeds.

Reviewed on 7/5/2017

American Podiatric Medical Association

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DeLauro, N.M., and T.M. DeLauro. "Onychocryptosis." Clinics in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery 21.4 (2004): 617-630.

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