It may be a small condition, but boy does it hurt.
Have you ever had to visit a pediatrist to have an ingrown toenail surgically removed? I have, and it was about as fun as it sounds. I had to get like three needles in my foot to get it numb, and I had to wear a gigantic bandage cocoon on my toe for several days. That’s what happens when you don’t take proper care of your toenails.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows in a direction it isn’t supposed to and begins pressing into the soft skin inside your toe. Your toe has a very specific amount of room for nails, so when that space is exceeded, the problem makes itself known promptly. Ingrown toenails hurt a lot, and if they’re not promptly treated, they could become infected. There isn’t much you can do on your own once it’s already ingrown, though, so the best course of action is the preventative one.
Firstly, when you clip your toenails, make sure not to clip them too short, and to clip them straight across. You might be tempted to cut them with a curve, since that’s how they normally look, but doing it like that will cause the nail to grow back in weird shapes and angles. If you cut the nail too short, the pressure from socks and shoes may force the nail to grow downward into skin.
Speaking of shoes, you should make sure to wear shoes that fit you comfortably, with a little room for your toes. It’s the same problem as cutting your nail too short; if your shoes are too tight, the nail will grow in directions it isn’t supposed to to escape. If you work a job that presents risks of foot damage, you should also make sure your shoes protect you properly. Steel-toed boots are one example of proper foot protection.