Can an Ingrown Toenail Cause Foot Pain?

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month. Therefore, today I will discuss one of the most common podiatric conditions effecting 26% of the population. While ingrown nails obviously are not a big health concern, they can be very painful and should be evaluated and treated by a health care professional to avoid infection that could potentially bring serious consequences in certain patients.

Ingrown nails, or onychocryptosis if you want to know the fancy medical lingo, can be caused by trimming a nail with too much “curve” instead of just straight across, by wearing tight fitting shoes, or by certain biomechanical factors of your foot type that you cannot control. For instance, those whose arches collapse more than normal or have a pre-existing bunion deformity are more prone to develop ingrown nails.

All the causes listed above have one thing in common. They cause an increase in the pressure on the folds of skin on either side of the nail. When skin is irritated it naturally forms callus to protect itself. The callus can sometimes be painful itself but often just contributes to the problem and leads to penetration of the nail and/or callus into the skin. Your body perceives this as a foreign body, so it mounts a response in an attempt to expel the sharp nail from the skin. The result is inflammation, which brings on the pain.

While pain is certainly justification enough for treatment of ingrown nails, infection is the biggest concern. This is even more necessary in patients with decreased blood flow, diabetes, neuropathy (deadening of the nerves leading to loss of sensation in the feet) or other serious health conditions because of the risk of simple openings in the skin progressing to ulcerations or even bone infection. Here at Cast a Foot Podiatry in Hempstead, we are trained to treat ingrown nails effectively and safely. Next week I will discuss your specific treatment options.


Nicole M. Castillo, DPM

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