Ingrown toenails can be more than just a nuisance. If left untreated, they can become a painful and even debilitating condition. If treated early, you may be able to take care of the problem on your own, but in certain cases, you will want to schedule an appointment with me to discuss your options.
What Is an Ingrown Toenail?
Usually affecting the big toe, an ingrown toenail is when the corner or side of the nail grows into the skin surrounding it. It is usually caused by tight shoes, cutting your toenails too short, or by an injury to the nail. Some people are more prone to ingrown toenails due to the shape of their nail. While you might not be able to see exactly what is going on with your nail, you can identify an ingrown toenail by the pain and redness around the toenail. Because your feet often come in contact with dirt and germs, this area can easily become infected, causing increased pain and redness.
Can I Treat it at Home?
If you have diabetes, you should come in and see me right away for an ingrown toenail. Otherwise, there are some simple things you can try at home if you start as soon as you notice a problem:
- Soak the toe in warm water to soften the flesh and possibly release the nail.
- Apply antibiotic cream to the sore to prevent infection.
- Wear loose shoes and socks to allow the toe space for healing.
- Take a pain reliever to manage tenderness.
If these remedies don’t work, you are at risk for infection and should make an appointment with us.
What a Podiatrist Can Do for an Ingrown Toenail
As with all of my treatments, I will start with the least-invasive option first and move on to more aggressive treatments as needed. Generally, I will do the following:
- Lift the nail. In this simple procedure, I will carefully lift the ingrown edge of the nail and place material under it to help the nail grow above the skin edge. You will have to soak the toe and replace the material each day until the condition is resolved.
- Partially remove the nail. If the ingrown nail is lodged more deeply in the toe, I may have to remove part of the nail to allow a new nail to grow in correctly. This procedure is done with a local anesthetic.
- Remove the nail entirely. If you have a chronic problem in the same area with an ingrown toenail, we may need to consider removing the nail and the nail bed underneath. This would mean that the nail will not grow back, but we can discuss cosmetic solutions as well.
As I mentioned above, if you are diabetic, you likely have decreased blood flow to your feet. For you, an ingrown toenail could become a much more serious problem than for other people. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible when you discover an ingrown toenail.
Center Grove Foot & Ankle Care Addresses All of Your Foot Care Needs
Whether you have an infected ingrown toenail or any other foot or ankle discomfort, schedule an appointment in our friendly office today. We treat everyone from high-level athletes to hard-working moms.