Causes of Ingrown Toenails

In addition to improper toenail trimming, ingrown toenails are also  caused by shoe pressure from ill-fitting shoes, injury, fungal infection, heredity, or your natural foot structure. Ingrown toenails occur when the corners or sides of the toenail grow into the skin, often leading to infection. A common ailment, ingrown toenails can be painful. Ingrown toenails start out hard, swollen, and tender; and if untreated, they may become sore, red, and infected and the skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail.

Heredity – Many people have simply inherited the tendency of ingrown toenails.

Injury – Stubbing your toe, dropping objects on your toes or repetitive movement under high pressure. If your shoes are rather tight fitting in the toe box for your foot structure and running or other activities cause repetitive movement this can contribute to the development of ingrown toenails.

Nail Trimming – Perhaps the most common cause of ingrown toenails is improper toenail trimming. If nails are cut too short there is an increased likelihood nails will grow into the skin that surrounds the nail. Skin around the nail is raised in comparison to the nail and if cut to short this skin may encroach the area where the nail will grow into. As a result, the nail will grow into the skin.

Footwear – Your running shoes may be too tight and may be cramping your toes. Many people sacrifice comfortable footwear for the sake of fashion. As a result, shoes with a narrow toe box may cram your toes into narrow places, put added pressure on your toes and lead to ingrown toenails, among other issues.

Adolescent boys in particular are more prone to developing  ingrown toenails. They are growing so fast their shoes can become tight fitting quickly. This shoe pressure is often a causative factor in ingrown toenails.

For children we use a combination of topical anesthetic and gentle electrical stimulation. The patient controls electrical stimulation themselves to help keep the nerves “busy” and the local anesthetic injection is administered. Younger patients benefit from this special technique. They are often very apprehensive about an injection, however with our techniques, the patient and their parents are often pleasantly surprised at how well they do.

Other Conditions – Injury or trauma which lead to toenail loss can create a situation for ingrown toenails when the nail grows back in. Also fungal infections that cause changes in the nail can cause ingrown toenails.