Ingrown toenails—also known by the technical names onychokryptosis (Greek ὄνυξ nail + κρυπτός hidden) and unguis incarnatus—are most often caused by wearing shoes that fit too tightly. Such tight- fitting shoes constrict the movement of the toes, pressing on the nails and causing them to grow into the skin. Another cause, though not as common, is when too much moisture accumulates in enclosed shoes, so that the epidermal keratin swells up and the nail plate becomes soft, and as a result the nail becomes permanently curved upward and into the skin.
Poor nail care can also lead to onychokryptosis. The nails should be cut straight across; they should not be curved, nor should the edges be peeled off. Other causes include injury to toe, such as stubbing or dropping things on it, and a bacterial infection. Some people are genetically vulnerable to unguis incarnatus, or their toes may be susceptible due to a disease that causes the nails to become deformed, or to a misshapen nail bed.
The individual suffering from onychokryptosis feels excruciating pain when wearing tight shoes, and the affected toes often become especially sensitive, even to the weight of something as light as a bed sheet. Swelling and discharge of blood and pus may also occur, and if the condition is not properly treated, the area may become infected. Drs. Vandenbos and Bowers (mentioned below) wrote that “persons who develop this condition have an unusually wide area of tissue medial and lateral to the nail and that with weight bearing this tissue tends to bulge up around the nail.”
A treatment for ingrown toenails called the Vandenbos procedure was described in the 1959 edition of the U. S. Armed Forces Medical Journal. Developed by Vandenbos HQ and Bowers WP, it involves making a lateral and medial nailfold excision to remove the deformity. The excision should go deep beneath the nail. A second excision is then made extending just to the nail surface. Tissue is removed, and the wound cauterized.
Getting medical help for a severe ingrown toenail in Colorado Springs
If you live in Colorado Springs and need care for an ingrown toenail, feel free to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Kerry Berg, Colorado Springs Podiatrist, by calling 719-594-9920.