If you’ve ever trimmed your nails too short, you may have experienced an ingrown toenail. This is because many people, when trimming their nails, either trim too short or try to taper the corners to follow the curve of your toe, but this only sets the stage for ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails are toenails that have grown into the skin surrounding the nail or the skin has grown over the nail causing irritation.
What are ingrown toenails?
Often occurring in the big toe, though other toes can be affected, an ingrown toenail is when the nail begins to grow into the soft tissue of the nail bed. The digging of the nail will irritate your skin causing pain, redness, swelling, and infection.
If left untreated, ingrown toenails can lead to an infection and worsening of pain. The infection is likely to spread past the underlying area and into the bone if medical care is not administered.
- Injury or trauma to the nail area
- Improperly trimmed nails
- Shoe pressure or tight-fitting shoes
- Redness around the toe or nail area leading to pain
- Bleeding or discharge around the nail
- Infection followed by a foul odor
- Excessive swelling of toes
Though sometimes ingrown toenails can be managed on your own, we always recommend seeking medical attention as an infection may develop. For those who struggle with diabetes, circulatory disorders, or nerve damage, immediate medical care is strongly advised as other complications may occur.
If an infection is not suspected, soaking your foot in a warm salt-water bath followed by a gentle massage around the nail may help to reduce inflammation. Do not attempt to remove the nail as this may worsen the situation.
If home treatments have not improved the condition after several days, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist.
After examining the nail, your podiatrist will discuss the best treatment options available to you. A minimal in-office surgery may be recommended to remove a portion of the nail, whole nail root, or adjacent soft tissue to relieve discomfort. An antibiotic or other medication may be prescribed to you to eliminate or prevent an infection.
Following the surgical procedure, open-toed or loose-fitting shoes should be worn with the recommendation of staying off your feet for the day. If allowed by your podiatrist’s instructions, you can resume normal activity the next day with minimal pain or discomfort.
- Trim toenails properly: cutting straight across. Nails should be no longer than the tip of toes and your fingernail should be able to slide under the side of and of your toenail.
- Wear properly fitted footwear. Avoid shoes that are too tight or narrow in the toe area.
If you need ingrown toenail treatment or have any questions regarding the information detailed above, please call Kenrick J. Dennis, DPM and Ronald P. Soefer, DPM today.