If you’re lucky, you won’t need to give your toenails much thought beyond trimming them regularly and treating yourself to the occasional pedicure. But if you develop an ingrown toenail, you will spend a lot of time thinking about the amount of pain you are feeling and how the problem is making walking and standing a challenging ordeal.
Ingrown toenails are some of the most common foot conditions we treat at JAWSpodiatry. While ingrown toenails frequently heal on their own, more advanced cases may require treatment by an experienced podiatrist to fully resolve the issue. Here are the facts you need to know about this frustrating and painful problem.
Symptoms and Causes
An ingrown toenail is one which grows into the skin below and around the nail rather than over it. The big toe is particularly prone to becoming ingrown. When the ingrown nail digs into your skin, it can become painful, infected, and swollen and may not heal until a podiatrist removes the nail.
Ingrown toenails can develop for several reasons, including:
- Pressure from poorly fitting shoes
- Trimming the toenail too short
- Fungal infections
- Injury or trauma, such as stubbing or jamming your toe.
Ingrown Toenail Treatments
You can temporarily relieve the discomfort of an ingrown toenail by soaking your foot in a solution of lukewarm water and salt. But soaking your nail won’t take care of the underlying problem. If left untreated, a persistent ingrown toenail can lead to serious health consequences, including infections that can migrate to the tissue and bone around the toenail.
At JAWSpodiatry, we offer several treatment options for ingrown toenails. Which one we will recommend for you depends on the nature and severity of your condition, and whether it is an isolated occurrence or one that arises frequently.
The three main ways we treat ingrown toenails at JAWSpodiatry are:
- Lifting the nail. For only slightly ingrown toenails, we can gently lift the ingrowing edge to separate it from the underlying skin, thus relieving the pain it causes. We will then place cotton, dental floss, or a splint under the nail to keep it apart from the skin and allow it to grow above the skin edge.
- Partially removing the nail. If your ingrown toenail has advanced to the point that you are experiencing redness, pain, and pus, we may elect to remove the ingrown part of the nail.
- Entirely removing the nail and tissue. For some people, an ingrown toenail on the same toe can be a repeating, chronic condition. In such cases, we may recommend removing the nail as well as the underlying tissue using a chemical or fine laser.
After any of the foregoing procedures, you will need to take care of the affected toe to prevent infection and encourage healing. This may involve cleaning the wound and soaking in Epsom salts and/or anti-microbial soap every day for a couple of weeks, as well as the application of an antibacterial cream and a small bandage. We also recommend wearing open-toe or loose-fitting shoes to keep pressure off the toe while it heals.
Of course, the best way to deal with an ingrown toenail is to prevent one from developing in the first place. You can minimize the chances of being afflicted with this condition by:
- Trimming your toenails properly by first soaking your feet to soften the nails. Then, cut the toenail straight across using nail clippers, ensuring that you leave enough nail to cover the toe.
- Wearing properly fitting and comfortable socks and shoes, avoiding tight, pointed, high-heeled shoes if possible.
- Trimming your young child’s or older adult’s nails.
Ingrown Toenail Slowing You Down? Call the Hollywood, Florida Foot and Ankle Specialists at JAWSpodiatry Today!
If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail or are having any other problems with your feet or ankles, the experienced and skilled podiatrists at JAWSpodiatry in Hollywood, Florida can help. Please contact us today at (954) 922-7333 to schedule a consultation.