Ingrown Toenail Treatment
What is an Ingrown Toenail
An ingrown toenail is a painful condition where the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling.
It most commonly affects the big toe and can occur on either side of the nail. Ingrown toenails can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper trimming of the toenails, wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, and toenail injuries.
While some mild cases of ingrown toenails can be treated at home, more severe cases may require medical treatment to prevent complications such as infection.
An ingrown toenail is typically caused by the edge of the toenail growing into the surrounding skin. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including:
Poor nail cutting technique
Cutting the toenails too short or leaving a sharp nail spike or edge can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
Poor fitting footwear
Shoes that are too tight or narrow can put pressure on the toes, causing the nail to grow into the skin.
Curved or abnormally shaped nails can grow into the surrounding skin and cause an ingrown toenail.
Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing ingrown toenails, meaning that their nail or skin shape can contribute to ingrown toenail formation.
Flat feet can cause an imbalance in pressure on the feet, leading to an increased risk of ingrown toenails.
Corns and calluses
Corns and calluses can cause pressure on the skin, and can form between the toenail and the surrounding skin.
Extra tissue around the toenail can make it more difficult for the nail to grow properly, increasing the risk of ingrown toenails.
Injury or trauma to the toe, such as stubbing it or dropping something heavy on it, can cause the nail to grow abnormally and become ingrown.
Here are some ways to help prevent ingrown toenails:
Proper nail care
Cut your toenails straight across and avoid rounding the corners. Don’t cut your nails too short, as this can encourage the nail to grow into the skin.
Wear proper footwear
Choose shoes that fit well and have a wide toe box to prevent pressure on the toes. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow.
Practise good foot hygiene
Keep your feet clean and dry, and change your socks regularly to help prevent fungal infections that can contribute to ingrown toenails.
Avoid trauma to the toes
Protect your toes from injury by wearing protective shoes during activities that involve kicking, such as soccer or martial arts.
Address foot problems early
If you have flat feet, corns and calluses, or other foot problems, it’s important to address these issues early to reduce the risk of ingrown toenails.
Avoid tight hosiery
Avoid wearing tight socks, stockings, or hosiery that can put pressure on your toes.
By following these preventive measures, you can help reduce your risk of developing ingrown toenails. However, if you do develop an ingrown toenail despite these efforts, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention to prevent the condition from worsening.
Treating ingrown toenails can vary depending on the severity of the condition, from medications to rehabilitation to partial or complete nail removal (surgical avulsion of the toenail).
The best way to treat an ingrown toenail is to visit your podiatrist. This will ensure the nail spike is removed correctly and allow for a new healthy nail to grow out.
Caring for your ingrown toenails is important to prevent infection. Here are some common treatment options your podiatrist may provide:
If the ingrown toenail is infected, your podiatrist may prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection.
For patients who suffer from chronic or recurring toenail problems, there is a nail procedure that can be performed by your podiatrist for partial or complete nail removal to curb the infection.
Partial or complete nail removal surgery (a.k.a. surgical avulsion of the toenail) is relatively simple and has a considerably high success rate in curing chronic ingrown toenail problems.
Your podiatrist may recommend orthotic devices, such as toe splints or shoe inserts, to help prevent ingrown toenails by reducing pressure on the toes.
It’s important to note that attempting to treat an ingrown toenail at home if it is severe, infected, or if you have diabetes or poor circulation, can cause further damage and increase the risk of complications. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of ingrown toenails.
Home Remedies for Ingrown Toenails
Home remedies for ingrown toenails are appropriate in cases where the condition is mild and there are no signs of infection.
Here are some home remedies for ingrown toenails that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with ingrown toenails:
- Soaking the foot in warm water with salt for 15-20 minutes, twice daily. This therapy can help reduce inflammation and ease pain.
- Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the affected area to help prevent infection.
- Place a small piece of cotton under the edge of the ingrown nail to lift it up and away from the skin. Change the cotton daily and avoid using sharp or pointed objects to avoid further injury.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and avoid tight-fitting footwear or high heels that can put pressure on the toes.
- Maintain good foot hygiene by keeping the feet clean and dry, and avoid walking barefoot in public areas to reduce the risk of infection.
- If the pain and swelling do not improve after a few days of home treatment (such as soaking the foot in warm water) or if the condition worsens, it is important to seek medical attention.
Ingrown toenails can lead to several complications if left untreated or if the condition becomes severe. Here are some potential complications of ingrown toenails:
- Ingrown toenails can become infected, causing redness, swelling, warmth, and pain in the affected toe. The infection can spread to other parts of the foot or body, leading to serious complications.
- Cellulitis is a skin infection that can occur when bacteria enters the skin through a break or wound. In severe cases, it can cause fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms.
- An abscess is a collection of pus that can form under the skin when the ingrown toenail becomes infected. It can be painful and may require drainage.
- Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can occur if an untreated or severe ingrown toenail spreads to the bone.
- Ingrown toenails can cause chronic pain, which can affect mobility and quality of life.
- In severe cases, an ingrown toenail can cause ulceration of the skin, leading to tissue damage and further infection.
- In rare cases, untreated or severe ingrown toenails can lead to gangrene, a condition where tissue dies due to lack of blood flow.
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Always Consult A Trained Professional
The information in this resource is general in nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult a trained professional practising in the area of medicine in relation to any injury or condition. You use or rely on information in this resource at your own risk and no party involved in the production of this resource accepts any responsibility for the information contained within it or your use of that information.