Ingrown toenails are one of the most common foot conditions that people experience. While it’s not usually a very serious condition, an ingrown toenail can be very painful, uncomfortable and unsightly. If not treated properly, an ingrown toenail can cause infection and other complications. Because ingrown toenails are a concern for many of our patients, we’ve compiled practical information about ingrown toenails into a collection of answers to the most common questions about ingrown toenails.
Can you get an ingrown toenail on any toe?
Ingrown toenails most commonly occur on the big toes, even though any toe can be affected.
What causes ingrown toenails?
When the edge of a toenail begins growing sideways into the adjacent skin, the nail may cause a break in the skin. The body’s natural immune response treats the invading toenail like a foreign body, causing inflammation. The inflammation often causes more thickening of the nail skin; the protruding piece of nail keeps pushing into the skin, causing further injury and pain.
When should you see a doctor for an ingrown toenail?
People with diabetes and anyone with a weakened immune system should immediately see a medical professional for an ingrown toenail. For others, ingrown toenails that are very painful, show signs of infection, or do not improve after five to ten days of at-home treatment warrant a trip to the doctor. Signs of infection include swelling, redness, throbbing, and pain or yellow or green drainage.
How can I prevent ingrown toenails?
Properly trimming your toenails and avoiding too tight or ill-fitting shoes are the two main ways to prevent ingrown toenails. Talk with your podiatrist about how to properly groom your toenails and how to select shoes that fit your feet well.
How are ingrown toenails treated?
Mild ingrown toenails can be treated at home with warm foot soaks, avoiding tight or ill-fitting shoes, elevating the foot, using topical antibiotics, and gently pushing back the overgrown skin from the toenail. More serious cases of ingrown toenails with infection may be treated with oral antibiotics. Resistant or recurrent cases of ingrown toenails may be treated with a minor in-office surgical procedure to remove the nail away from surrounding skin. After the procedure, proper wound care is essential to prevent further infection while healing.
Can I just cut out my ingrown toenails at home?
A common foot health myth is that cutting a “v” in the corner of an ingrown toenail will cause the nail to grow in correctly. The fact is that cutting a “v” may actually cause a more serious and painful ingrown toenail.
What are possible complications of ingrown toenails?
If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can cause deeper infection in the skin and even the underlying bone, leading to a serious bone infection. Complications from ingrown toenails can be more severe for people with diabetes.
If you have more questions about ingrown toenails or if you’re suffering from an ingrown toenail that’s not getting better, make an appointment with us today. We can help you ease the pain and discomfort of ingrown toenails.