According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health® about 18% of adults in the United States have had an ingrown toenail. Unfortunately, some of those people experienced complications as a result of not seeking medical care quickly. Not only does Dr. LaMour treat ingrown toenails, he wants you to know how to avoid getting them in the first place.
Why some people have ingrown nails
Normally, your toenail grows inside your nail bed. When you get an ingrown toenail, the nail curves slightly at the edge and grows into the fold of skin next to your nail bed. It’s painful, and can be serious.
There are many reasons you might get an ingrown toenail. One is simply genetics. You may have inherited a tendency for your toenails to curve and become ingrown.
Another common cause is poorly fitting footwear. If you wear high heels or narrow shoes that don’t have enough space in the toe box, the pressure on your toes can cause your nails to become ingrown. The same is true of wearing tights or hose often.
Stubbing your toe may lead to an ingrown toenail, as can other types of trauma, like dropping something heavy on your toe. Some types of activity amount to trauma that can lead to ingrown toenails. For example, runners have more ingrown toenails than other people.
By far, though, the most common cause of ingrown toenails is improper trimming. Cutting your nails too short can lead to ingrown toenails, as can cutting them any way other than straight across.
The dangers of ingrown toenails
Although we use words like “tender” to talk about ingrown toenails, the truth is that they hurt, and the worse they get, the more they hurt. Aside from the pain, which can make it difficult to wear socks and shoes, or even to walk comfortably, ingrown toenails can lead to other problems.
An ingrown toenail can get infected, and the infection can easily spread to the bones of your foot and cause serious complications.
Trying to care for your ingrown toenail at home increases your risk of infection even more. If you’ve ever been told to put a piece of a cotton ball between your nail and your skin, you’ve received poor advice. The cotton ball is an excellent host for bacteria, so it increases your chances of developing an infection.
Cutting your nail shorter is another common, but inadvisable, approach to dealing with an ingrown toenail, because trimming it won’t change the way it grows. Cutting a notch in your nail won’t help either.
How we treat ingrown toenails
Most of the time, Dr. LaMour treats ingrown nails right here in the office. Every person is different and your treatment depends on the severity of your ingrown nail, whether or not it’s infected, and your medical history. Some people, such as those who have diabetes, need different care than others.
Ingrown toenail treatment may include:
- Lifting the nail
- Partial removal of the nail
- Removing the entire nail
- Treating the nail bed to prevent future growth
If you have an ingrown toenail, don’t take chances with home remedies that are likely to be ineffective and may even make things worse. Instead, come in to see Dr. LaMour for an expert opinion and treatment. Just call one of our offices in Austin or Pflugerville or book your appointment online.