If you have ever had an ingrown toenail, you know what pain is. Every step you take can be excruciating as the top of your shoe presses against your toe. Ingrown toenails are not only painful, they can quickly become a medical problem that can’t be ignored.
What is an ingrown toenail and who is at risk?
An ingrown toenail is a nail that has grown into the skin. A normally growing toenail grows over the skin. Ingrown toenails are most common in adults with thick or curved nails. The corners of the nail, and eventually the outer edges, grow down into the skin instead of over it.
Are there specific things that cause an ingrown toenail?
There are a number of things that can lead to an ingrown toenail, many of which are avoidable. Rounding the edge of the toenail while clipping instead of cutting straight across is one of the main culprits, as is cutting the nail too short. Shoes or socks that don’t fit correctly can also cause an ingrown nail.
Repeated activities can also cause a nail to grow into the skin. Things like playing soccer and kicking the ball regularly, hiking in shoes that don’t fit well and even working on your feet in the wrong footwear can all cause ingrown toenails.
The obvious symptom of an ingrown toenail is pain. If the nail gets infected, the skin surrounding the area may swell and turn red. The area may also begin to leak pus if the infection is left untended.
How Ingrown Toenails are Treated
Many people attempt to clip out the part of the toenail that is growing into the skin, but this could be a mistake, only serving to make things worse. Allowing the nail to grow out naturally is the best home remedy. Soak the affected toe in warm water for 15 minutes or more up to three times daily. Wedge a small piece of gauze or cotton under the corner of the ingrown nail. This helps the nail grow out over the skin.
These treatments should continue until the nail has grown out. While you are treating your ingrown toenail, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. If you are able to, opt for sandals that leave the toes exposed, removing any chance of pressure from being applied to the top of the toes.
If the toe does not begin to feel better after three days of home treatment, visit an experienced podiatrist. This specialist will be able to remove the nail in the appropriate manner and offer you treatments that may include antibiotics and pain medication. If, at any time, you believe that your ingrown toenail may have caused an infection, do not attempt home remedies – a visit to the doctor is called for.
If you are suffering with an ingrown toenail in Salt Lake City and need medical attention, reach out to Dr. Elizabeth Auger to schedule an appointment. Dr. Auger will evaluate your toe and provide you with the appropriate treatment options.