While many things can cause ingrown nails, the most common causes are improperly fitted shoes and nails that are improperly trimmed. Shoes or stockings that are too tight press on the sides of the nail, causing it to curl and dig into the skin.Nails that are cut too short, rounded off at the tip, or are peeled off at the edges versus being cut straight across are more likely to become ingrown as well. Other causes include an abnormally shaped nail bed, trauma to the nail plate or toe and other nail deformities. Proneness to nail deformities that cause ingrown nails can also be genetic.
Symptoms of an ingrown nail include pain along the margins of the nail, worsening of pain when wearing shoes or other tight articles, and sensitivity to pressure of any kind, even that of light bedding. By the very nature of the condition, ingrown nails become easily infected unless special care is taken to treat the condition early on and keep the area as clean as possible. Signs of infection include redness and swelling of the area around the nail, drainage of pus and/or a watery discharge tinged with blood.
Treatment of ingrown nails ranges from soaking the afflicted area to surgery. In mild cases, doctors recommend daily soaking of the foot or hand in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts and applying over-the-counter antibiotics while allowing the nail to grow out so it may be trimmed properly. Another remedy is to file the top of the nail flat. This will cause the nail to contract and pull the ingrown sides up.