What Is an Ingrown Toenail? What Does It Look Like & Pictures


What is an ingrown toenail? Here are pictures to help you know how ingrown toe nails look like, infection plus additional information and tips on what to do for ingrown toenails at home.

Ingrown toe nails can wreak havoc in your life. Imagine having to walk around with a tingling pain in your toe all the time wishing to get home quick so you can throw those shoes away. But what is an ingrown toenail really?

What is an ingrown toenail pain
Toe with an ingrown nail.

What Is an Ingrown Toenail?

Referred medically as Onychocryptosis, ingrown toe nail or unguis incarnates is a nail condition whereby the nail grows abnormally such that its corner or side curls as to cut into the surrounding soft flesh.

The condition typically affects the big toe – even though any other toe can as well be affected – resulting in redness, tenderness and swelling. The affected area also feels painful when pressure is applied on it, e.g. on wearing a pair of shoes.

Ingrown toe nails affect both men and women but teenagers tend to experience it more. This is because at teenage, the feet tend to sweat more. This often makes the skin surrounding the toe nail to become soft and it may occasionally split, giving way for the nail to pierce through the skin.

Older people are also more susceptible to developing ingrown toenail. This is attributed to the fact that as someone ages, the nail grows progressively thicker. This not only makes them trickier to cut short but can also make it to put downward pressure on the surrounding tissues

The problem is mainly prevalent in shoe wearing cultures and is rarely experienced in cultures that walk barefoot.

What Does an Ingrown Toenail look like?

Now that we know what an ingrown toenail is, the next question is “what does an ingrown toenail look like?’

Well, ingrown toenail is notable for having a nail that bends and pierces into the soft tissue around it. This makes it look as though the skin is growing over the nail. An ingrown toenail also tends to get swollen and reddened on the edge of the nail and feels tender on touch.

What Is an Ingrown Toenail Infection?

What is an ingrown toenail infection, you asked? Well, the piercing to the surrounding tissues that is associated with ingrown toenails can cause bacterial infection especially if the toenail is left untreated for a long time.

The symptoms of infection range from more intense pain and swelling to redness in the area around the piercing point and pus (green or yellow fluid).

As infection gets worse, you may experience fever and pulsating (throbbing) pain, and the redness could spread across the toe.

Antibiotics are normally used for treatment of ingrown toenail infection.

If you have diabetes or weak immune system, you should in particular seek medical attention urgently as early treatment of infections is very important. The same applies to people with conditions affecting the nerves in your feet (e.g. diabetic neuropathy)since the loss of sensation that usually accompany such condition can make you less aware of the problem.

Ingrown Toenail Pictures

And now comes my favorite part. Here are the thousand words that a wise man talked about. Which man you ask? Well, I am talking about the saying, “a picture speaks a thousand words”. Without further a do, here are a few ingrown toenail pictures to complete the whole picture.

Image 1and2

What to Do for an Ingrown Toenail at Home

So what can be done to an ingrown toenail at home to prevent infection and prevent it from getting worse? Well, you may want to consider the following simple treatment guideline:

  1. Soak the ingrown toe in warm, soapy water for 10 minutes. This helps to soften the skin surrounding the nail. Applying some olive oil can as well help
  2. Push the skin fold gently downwards and away from the ingrown nail using a cotton bud starting at the root of the nail all the way to the end of the nail
  3. Repeat the procedure once or twice every day for several weeks while the nail continues to grow
  4. When the end of the nail starts growing forward, insert a tiny piece of cotton wool under it to keep it a bit elevated. This will help it to grow over the skin rather than into it. To ensure proper hygiene, change the cotton wool every day
  5. Allow the nail enough time to grow until it is well past the end of the toe and then cut is straight across without rounding off the tips as some people do

In addition to this, you will also want to wear a fitting pair of shoes. Painkillers such as Paracetamol can also help to relieve the pain.

What to Do for an Ingrown Toenail on a Child

Wondering what to do for an ingrown toenail on a child? Well, your first line of action should be to soak your child’s feet in warm, soapy water for 10 to 20 minutes 2-3 times daily. Next, dry the feet well and apply over-the-counter antibiotic cream on the affected toes.

Now, use a cotton bud to gently push the skin fold away from the nail starting at the bottom of the nail and working all the way to the end. Once done, lift your child’s toenail gently with your nail and insert a small piece of cotton wool between the skin and nail. This will help to raise the nail a bit but should be changed every day.

Although painkillers can be used to relieve the pain associated with ingrown toenail, aspirin is not recommended for children aged below 16 years as it can lead to Reye’s syndrome, a rare fatal condition. Instead, consider a pain reliever such as acetaminophen.

In addition you will want to have your kid wear loose fitting shoes or sandals to allow the toe some time to heal. You can even let your kid walk barefoot around the house.