Ingrown toenails are a common condition in which the nail grows into the soft flesh of the toe. Ingrown toenails can be irritating due to the nail beginning to pierce the skin, and it may result in pain, redness, swelling, and difficulty walking.
If the condition is left untreated, the area may become susceptible to infection, and even the smallest and least painful cases can still lead to infection and bigger issues.
What Causes an Ingrown Toenail?
Ingrown toenails are routinely experienced throughout the population, and some of the common causes include:
- Cutting toenails too short or leaving them overly rounded
- Injury to the toe or toenail
- Having unusually curved toenails
- Wearing shoes that are too small
At our foot clinic in Garland, Texas, the most common cause of ingrown toenails that we identify is cutting the nails too short. When the nails are too short, they grow into the skin instead of around and over it. We advise that patients cut their nails straight across and to not cut into the pink portion of the nail at all.
In addition to this, people who have experienced a fungal infection or have lost a nail because of trauma are at a greater risk for developing an ingrown toenail.
Symptoms of Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenail symptoms can be very annoying and troublesome and include:
- Pain and tenderness in your toe along one or both sides of the nail
- Redness around your toenail
- Swelling of your toe around the nail
- Infection of the tissue around your toenail
Due to the fact that ingrown toenails can lead to serious infections of the skin and bone, it is imperative to consult a specialist if you:
- Experience severe discomfort in your toe
- See pus or redness that seems to be spreading
- Have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet
- Experience any foot sores or infections
Ingrown Toenail Treatment
Ingrown toenails are easily treated if it is caught in the early stages and prior to infection, and usually can be treated safely at home. Home treatment is not recommended if there is an infection, or if the patient has a medical condition such as diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation.
In the absence of infection or complicating factors, the foot can be soaked in water with Epsom’s salt and gently massaged on the side of the nail fold to reduce inflammation and pain to the affected area.
If the nail has not grown to be extremely troublesome, one of our foot specialists may be able to simply and safely “lift” the nail into a normal position without damaging or further irritating the toe.
If the nail is unable to be lifted, professional and personalized treatment may include:
- Oral antibiotics if an infection is present.
- Surgery can ease the pain and remove the nail for developed instances— either a portion or the entire nail.
- Permanent removal may destroy or remove the nail root. This treatment prevents the recurrence of an ingrown toenail.
In most cases, there is little discomfort after surgery and the patient can resume normal activity within a few days after the procedure. Ingrown toenails are annoying and painful, and can occur at any time. By following our guidelines, you can lower your risk of experiencing this ailment.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, do not hesitate to call our friendly and knowledgeable staff to eliminate the problem before it develops into something serious.