An ingrown toenail is a toenail that begins to grow into the skin. The skin of the foot grows over one side or both sides of the toenail. When this happens, it is accompanied by a lot of pain, heat, irritation and redness in the area. An ingrown toenail may lead to an infection and will have symptoms of inflammation, swelling, and discharge or pus. The nail will be quite painful. Cause Ingrown toenails are caused by: • a traumatic injury to the toenail such as stubbing a toe or an incident where the toe is stepped on or crushed • repetitive injuries to the nail, where the nail is pounded into the foot • congenital conditions • not cutting your toenails or cutting them incorrectly so they grow into the skin • an infection of the nail • arthritis predisposes someone to ingrown toenails • shoes too narrow Treatment & Prevention An ingrown toenail that has become infected needs medical attention and antibiotics. The nail will most likely be removed, and a new one will grow back soon. Soaking feet in a saline solution and drying them thoroughly, then covering the toe(s) is the best way to prevent ingrown toenails. Cutting the toenails straight across, making sure you can visibly see the corner of the nail prevents the nail from growing downward into the skin. Avoiding shoes that are too narrow is a key to the prevention of ingrown toenails, as well.