Is your toe tender and swollen? If the skin is red and the edge of your toenail is not visible, you could well have an ingrown toenail. As a common foot problem which causes a dull pain, ingrown nails can grow into much larger problems.
Infections, fever and even gangrene are all possibilities which can result from an ingrown nail. And what was once a small, dull pain can steadily develop into a debilitating, red-hot heat.
Although a common complaint, ingrown toenails seldom turn into medical emergencies. Nevertheless, it’s a problem which should not be ignored in hope of disappearing on its own. Below, we look at some of the first steps you should take when discovering an ingrown toenail.
Ingrown Toenail Prevention is the Key
Many instances of ingrown toenails can be prevented. Often caused as the result of cutting a nail too short, this is frequently an avoidable problem.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes for prolonged periods is another common reason this ailment can arise. Similarly, and unbeknown to many people, poor foot hygiene is another common cause.
While our feet are essential to many everyday activities, it’s easy to take them for granted. As such, it’s worth taking the time out to look after your body. Life in a fast, modern world can easily whisk you through time.
By spending at least once a week pampering yourself, you can greatly reduce the risks of unnecessary injury.
Proper Ingrown Toenail Self-diagnosis
Normally suffered by the big toe, this problem can just as easily occur in any of your toes. Most people first notice they have an ingrown nail due to a developing pain.
A red inflammation of the skin around the nail is also a sure sign of such a problem. As the problem becomes more acute, you will notice that the edge of the nail is visibly underneath your skin.
Likewise, it could be that your skin has simply grown around the nail rather than the nail diverting from its usual direction.
Self-help Tactics for Treating Ingrown Toenails
Regularly soaking the affected toe in warm water will serve to soften the skin. Not only does this help ease some of the pain, but it will also help the nail to grow out. Each soak should take a minimum of 10 minutes. This will ensure that the skin becomes sufficiently malleable.
Although it may seem extreme, you should aim to soak your foot around three to four times every day. This is important to help the nail grow out unimpeded.
Because this whole process can take a long time, many people use painkillers containing paracetamol. If you opt to do this, ensure you always follow the recommended dosage guidelines.
Taking Extra Care
Maintaining a high level of hygiene with your foot is vital. The increased risk of suffering broken skin can easily result in infections forming. Essential to this is keeping your foot dry throughout the day.
Therefore, once you’ve finished soaking your foot you will need to ensure it is completely dried. This prevents any bacteria from enjoying a comfortable environment to survive inside your sock.
The use of clean socks and shoes is also critical to keeping a toenail free from further trouble.
Maintain Close Observations
The most disarming thing about ingrown nails is the speed in which they develop. However, the key to tackling them well is to deal with them swiftly.
Acting fast will help but continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis. If you notice signs of discharge or visible infections, don’t hesitate in seeking a second opinion.
Seeking Help From a Professional
If you are worried about an ingrown toenail, contact a foot specialist to arrange a private consultation.
Many of the initial steps can be carried out by yourself, however, seeking professional advice will provide peace of mind. Additionally, an underlying illness such as diabetes could cause further complications. Most importantly, don’t just ignore any problem in the hope it will rectify itself.