Ingrown toenails are usually very painful, and they develop as the toenail starts to impede on the skin of the toe itself. This development occurs alongside excessive pressure on the nail and toe. The feeling of the nail growing into the skin and the resulting cut and damage that the ingrown can cause can make everyday activities like walking especially difficult. It is usually urgent to treat this condition because of how impactful and negative they can be to the people who have them. Their intense pain can make even the most menial tasks impossible to accomplish, and for anyone who is used to doing things in their day this can feel catastrophic. Ingrown toenails do more than just cause pain, however. One example of this is the infections that ingrown toenails can cause to develop. These infections can take different forms; they may be bacterial infections that are infecting the wound of the ingrown, or even a fungal infection that resides under the surface of the nail.
Ingrown toenails cause damage to the toe itself, which allows toenail fungus to penetrate and infect more easily. After the damage from the ingrown toenail, the toe responds to the environment similarly to a nail that has been traumatized from outside damage like getting something dropped on it. A nail after a trauma like this is very easily infected by something like a toenail fungus. Trauma to the nail bed makes this easier to occur because it makes the nail bed more accessible to the pathogens, which normally would have to work harder to get into the nail bed. The nail normally forms a barrier between the outside environment and the nail bed that protects it from infection with bacteria and fungus. Anything that damages this barrier will make it easier for infection of the nail bed to occur.
Ingrown toenails cause trauma to the nail and nail bed that weakens the protective skin barrier around the nail, making it easier for fungus to infect. After an ingrown toenail, fungus will be able to transfer between the nail and the skin with less protective barriers. This makes it easier for any fungal spores that have found their way onto your toes to migrate to the nail bed where they can attach and grow. Ingrown toenails aren’t the only way to cause trauma to your nail; a similar phenomena happens when you stub your toe really hard, or drop something heavy on your foot. Any way that you directly harm the toe or toenail will increase the probability of a toenail fungus infection forming under your nail.
Ingrown toenails are commonly caused because of improperly fitting or unsupportive footwear. This type of footwear is actually the root of many issues people have with their feet, including hammertoes and bunions. Improperly fitting or supportive footwear is a major reason why ingrown toenails will develop. The toes are usually in contact with the edge of the shoe, but if your shoes are especially tight or improperly fitting so that the toes are pressured up against the sides more frequently this can be the cause for an ingrown toenail development. Improperly fitting shoes can press the nail up against the foot of the shoe, which can cause trauma to the nail as well. The pressure from the side of the shoe can actually loosen the connection the nail has with the nail bed, which can make it even easier for the fungus to infect the nail. Since ill fitting shoes can cause both direct trauma and increase the risk of ingrown toenails, it is best to find properly fitting shoes.
Ingrown toenails are a high risk condition for athletes since they move around so much. Increased levels of activity in athletes will also cause increased pressure of the nail against the side of the shoe. Athletes who must jump, run, and do other high intensity activities will find that their nails are jammed up against the material of their shoes frequently. Properly fitting shoes are therefore even more essential for athletes than for other people; finding shoes to accommodate these needs should be treated with care.
Toenail fungus infections usually start pretty recognizably, with aesthetic changes that can be easy to spot. The first sign of a nail fungus is usually discoloration, which can appear as a small white, yellow, brown, or black spot or stripe on the surface of the nail. Ingrown toenails are likely to increase the risk of both toenail fungus infections as well as bacterial infections of the skin. These bacterial infections can cause pus buildup and inflammation around the skin where the ingrown toenail resides.
If you have a toenail fungus infection, whether it was caused by an ingrown toenail or not, you should be seen by a licensed podiatrist for an FDA-approved treatment. The best treatment option is the PinPointe laser, which typically requires only one treatment to eliminate the fungus and has no downtime. To learn more about this treatment or schedule a free consultation with a licensed podiatrist, give us a call at 1-(800) 672-0625 or visit our website for more information.