Ingrown toenails can be a major source of discomfort and pain in your foot. An ingrown toenail occurs when the corner of the nail grows into the soft flesh of your skin. A common foot issue, ingrown toenails most often affect the big toes. According to Cleveland Clinic, “Two out of 10 people who see their healthcare provider for a foot problem have an ingrown toenail.”
Symptoms of ingrown toenails include pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the flesh around the toenail. Your toe may even feel hot to the touch or leak pus/fluid, which could be due to an infection and need medical attention as soon as possible.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenails are caused by one or more of the following factors:
Wearing tight shoes puts pressure on your toes and nails, which forces them to grow into the skin at the side of the nail.
Trimming Toenails too Short
Trimming your toenails regularly is a good idea, but be sure not to cut them too short. If you do, you increase your risk of the nail growing into the skin.
Rounding Nails When Trimming Instead of Straight Across
Always trim your toenails straight across and avoid giving them a “rounded” look. A rounded toenail can easily press into the skin, causing an ingrown toenail.
Trauma to the Nail
Accidentally dropping a heavy object onto your toe or stubbing your toe can injure the toenail and make it more prone to growing toward the skin.
What to Do About an Ingrown Toenail?
If you have an ingrown toenail, you will be happy to know that there are many ways for you to alleviate the pain you may be experiencing and prevent the nail from growing any further into the surrounding skin.
Never Perform “At-Home Surgery”
One of the remedies that podiatrists will never endorse is “at-home surgery,” which involves using clippers or another sharp instrument to cut the nail and surrounding skin. This can result in the ingrown toenail becoming infected and needing professional medical attention as soon as possible.
Soak Your Foot
Soaking your foot in a combination of water and Epsom salt can help you manage the pain and, if applicable, discharge any pus or liquid. You can do this several times a day, as it also softens and loosens the skin.
Bandage the Toe
Apply an antibiotic ointment and then bandage the affected toenail to prevent a toenail infection as well as encourage the nail to begin growing out and over the skin.
Wear Shoes that Do Not Put Pressure on Your Toes
Shop for shoes that fit you well. Your shoes should feature plenty of room in the toe box, which will lessen the risk of the shoes putting pressure on your toes.
When to See a Podiatrist
Your ingrown toenail requires proper care and treatment so it can fully heal. Not sure when to see our podiatrists? Schedule an appointment if:
No Improvement in 2-3 Days or Gets Worse
If you are treating your ingrown toenail at home and not seeing any improvement, or the pain/swelling is getting worse, it is best to have the ingrown toenail evaluated.
The Area has Become Painful
Most ingrown toenails do cause mild to moderate pain, but if your pain is making it difficult for you to walk and is limiting your mobility, it is time to call our office.
You have an Infection
Bacteria can enter the site of the ingrown nail and cause a toenail infection. Pus/liquid, redness/darkening of the area, and a toe that feels warm to the touch are the most common signs of an infection.
You have Diabetes, Poor Circulation, or Other Conditions that put You at Risk
Diabetes, poor circulation, and other health conditions can make it more likely for your ingrown toenail to become infected and cause further complications. It is best to see our podiatrists sooner than later so you can be sure the toenail is healing.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment
Sometimes an ingrown toenail can grow so far into the skin that you may need to undergo a procedure called a nail avulsion.
A nail avulsion involves our podiatrists injecting an anesthetic into the affected area and carefully lifting the nail away from the toe, or removing part or all of the toenail. Your toenail will grow back within a few months.
This procedure is a safe, painless, and highly effective procedure, and we can do it right in our office. It can relieve your pain by removing the ingrown toenail, which promotes healing and prevents infection. Our podiatrists can decide if a nail avulsion is the best treatment option for you.
Let Us Help Treat Your Ingrown Toenails
At Michigan Foot and Ankle Specialists, we recognize how painful and frustrating ingrown toenails can be. We can help you manage an ingrown toenail or an infected toenail right in our office.
Our office is located at 7243 Chase Rd. in Dearborn, and you can reach us by submitting a contact form online or by calling 313-582-6222. Do not let your ingrown toenails get worse, but contact us today.
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7243 Chase Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48126
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