An ingrown toenail occurs when the left, right, or both sides of the toenail grow deep into the skin surrounding the nail or when the skin surrounding to nail grows over the left, right, or both sides of the toenail. This painful annoyance is very common. The good news is that it is curable. The bad news is that it sometimes requires medical attention and will not cure itself.
Anyone can develop in growing toenails. Unfortunately, there is not much you can really do to prevent this condition from forming. If you are prone to ingrown toenails, you might have a chronic condition. Maybe your nail is thicker than normal or your nail plate is shaped abnormally. Fortunately, "chronic ingrown toenails" are easier to treat and less painful. You might only notice pain while walking or otherwise on your feet. Specialized insoles can help to comfort the chronic ingrown toenail, like the Superfeet Blue, engineered specifically to help reduce pain associated in an ingrown nail in tighter-fitting shoes. Controllable situations that can cause an ingrown nail include injury to the foot/toe, improper footwear (shallow shoes that are much too tight) or improperly trimming the nail. The latter examples will likely lead to an "acute ingrown toenail", in which the skin around the nail is very tender even to the lightest touch and can easily develop an infection.
How do you know that the pain you are experiencing is an ingrown nail? Sometimes the signs are obvious: pain right around the side of the toenail and you can actually see the nail growing into the skin (or vice/versa). An acute situation might appear red and swollen. To relieve pain, serious (mostly acute; very few chronic) ingrown toenail injuries will require an invasive medical procedure (surgery). However, if it’s not causing too much pain, look for better-fitting orthopedic shoes to replace the shoe you might suspect is worsening your condition. Some find relief by soaking the feet in lukewarm salt water for ten minutes daily. You may be able to prevent the ingrown toenail from recurring by trimming the nail straight across when grooming (don’t cut down the sides).