What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
Several factors can contribute to the development of ingrown toenails:
- Tight Shoes: The pressure exerted on toes and nails by snug footwear can force them to grow into the surrounding skin.
- Trimming Toenails Too Short: Cutting toenails excessively short increases the likelihood of them growing into the skin.
- Rounding Nails When Trimming: Trimming toenails in a rounded shape can easily lead to them pressing into the skin, causing ingrown toenails.
- Trauma to the Nail: Accidental injuries such as dropping a heavy object on your toe or stubbing it can damage the toenail and make it more susceptible to growing inwards.
Is It Possible to Treat Them at Home?
Yes, it is possible to manage ingrown toenails at home, provided you avoid attempting “at-home surgery” using sharp instruments, as this can lead to complications. Instead, consider the following home remedies:
- Soak Your Foot: Soaking your affected foot in warm, soapy water or an Epsom salt solution can alleviate pain and help soften the skin. This reduces swelling and encourages proper nail growth away from the skin.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Soak: Apple cider vinegar’s natural antiseptic properties make it a valuable home remedy. Soaking the ingrown toenail in a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar can prevent infection and offer relief from discomfort.
- Antiseptic Ointment: Applying over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the affected area and covering it with a bandage can prevent infection and promote healthy nail growth.
- Epsom Salt Soak: Epsom salt is particularly effective in reducing inflammation and aiding nail healing. Regularly immersing your foot in an Epsom salt solution can provide relief.
- Wear Proper Shoes: Choosing footwear with sufficient room in the toe box can reduce pressure on your toes and minimize the risk of exacerbating the problem.
When Is It Time to Schedule an Appointment?
While these home remedies can offer relief, there are instances where consulting our podiatrists is essential:
No Improvement in 2-3 Days or Worsening Symptoms: If your ingrown toenail shows no improvement or worsens despite home treatment, seek professional evaluation.
Severe Pain and Mobility Limitations: If the pain becomes unbearable and hampers your ability to walk, it’s time to contact our team.
Signs of Infection: If you notice pus or fluid discharge, redness, or the affected area feels warm to the touch, you likely have an infection that requires immediate medical attention.
Underlying Health Conditions: If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or other conditions that increase the risk of infection, it’s best to contact our office as soon as possible.