What Can I Do About an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail can be an extremely painful condition. It occurs when the sharp edges of the toenail start growing into the soft flesh at the side of the nail.
One of the first symptoms of an ingrown toenail includes pain and inflammation where the nail grows into the skin.
The big toe is most susceptible to an ingrown toenail. Although there are several home remedies to ease and treat ingrown toenails, if left untreated, complications can arise. These can lead to pain, inflammation, and pus formation.
If you have an existing health complication such as diabetes or if you suffer from poor circulation, ingrown toenails can lead to serious medical complications.
It is always best to seek professional advice from a reputed foot and ankle specialist if you’re unsure about the best course of treatment.
Ingrown toenails can happen due to a number of reasons.
- Incorrectly cutting toenails.
- Wearing the wrong footwear (shoes that bind the toes or feet tightly).
- Bad foot hygiene.
- Nail trauma or injury.
- Curved or irregular/uneven toenails.
- Sports or physical activities that require using the feet excessively, especially the tips of the toes (soccer, ballet).
There are a number of symptoms of ingrown toenails and these often occur in stages.
In the early stage, you may notice the skin near the affected toenail feels tender or swollen. This can lead to pain at the affected spot when pressure is applied or felt. You may also notice fluid buildup near the affected spot.
These symptoms will give way to full-blown infection if left untreated.
- At this point, the toenail will become extremely painful.
- You will notice inflammation and reddish discoloration as well as bleeding and pus formation.
Important – If infection sets in, consult with a professional foot and ankle specialist as soon as possible to treat the infection and prevent further damage.
It is important to note that an infection in the toenail can lead to infection in the toe bone. In addition, an infected toenail can lead to other complications such as open sores, foot ulcers or even tissue decay at the site of the infection.
If the ingrown toenail is in the early stages, try the following:
- Wash your feet twice a day to keep the area clean.
- Soak your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
- Do this 4-5 times in a day.
- Using a cotton ball, gently push away the skin from the toenail edge.
- When you’re not washing or soaking, make sure you keep the feet dry at all other times.
- On top of this, you can try lifting the toenail that’s digging into the skin by using a cotton gauze or a piece of dental floss – this can help elevate the toenail and allow it to grow naturally.
- For the pain, you can use an OTC medication.
Continue with the home remedies for a few days or a week. If, however, you notice the pain is becoming worse or if you suspect the toenail is infected, please consult a podiatrist.
If the toenail is infected, home remedies will not work and you will need medical treatment.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may remove a portion of the nail in a procedure known as Wedge Resection. You will be given a local anesthetic and the doctor will drain the infection before removing a portion of the nail.
A matrixectomy is performed to completely and permanently remove the offending ingrown toenail. The nail matrix, or the tissue under the nail, will then be covered with a chemical to prevent it from growing. This procedure is used for chronic conditions, repeat ingrown toenails, and toenail plate deformity. It is a great way to solve the repeating problem for people. Again, the procedure will be performed under local anesthesia.
- Trim or cut your toenails following your unique anatomy to prevent the edges from digging into the skin.
- Don’t cut your toenails too short.
- Practice good hygiene to prevent infections.
- Avoid wearing tight shoes and socks.
- If you have abnormally curved nails or if you have very thick nails, set up a consult with a podiatrist for more information.
Are you suffering from an ingrown toenail? If yes, you don’t have to suffer any longer.