An ingrown toenail can make your everyday activities feel like a form of torture. This painful problem inflames the tissue around the toenail, causing discomfort and potentially leading to health complications in vulnerable individuals. Here are some key points to help you understand the nature of your ingrown toenail and what you can do about it.
Understanding Ingrown Toenails
An ingrown toenail gets its name from the way a toenail may grow past its normal boundary, cutting into the skin that borders it in the process. You will most commonly develop an ingrown toenail on your big toe. The affected area may turn red and swollen if it gets infected, and in some cases, it may fill with pus. Any degree of pressure on this inflamed area will cause sharp pain.
Ingrown toenails can stem from a variety of causes. For instance, a sudden injury to the toenail can create jagged edges that cut into the surrounding tissue. The problem can occur if you trim your toenails unevenly or excessively. Tight-fitting shoes may encourage the development of ingrown toenails, while sweaty feet from poorly ventilated shoes may raise the risk of infection.
In some situations, an ingrown toenail can go from a minor annoyance to a major health threat. If your toe grows severely affected, or if you have an underlying circulatory problem such as diabetes, you need to pursue the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.
Home Care: Your First Line of Defense
It always makes good sense to visit your podiatrist anytime you have a worrying foot or toe problem. In the meantime, however, home care techniques may prove soothing and/or help your toe heal. Over-the-counter pain relievers should help to ease discomfort, while regular soaks in warm water can aid in fluid drainage. Topical steroids may also reduce inflammation and swelling. If you want to prevent or control an infection, apply an antibiotic cream.
Professional Ingrown Toenails Treatment
If your ingrown toenail doesn't respond to home care methods, it's time to get professional medical help. Your podiatrist may give you prescription-strength antibiotics or equip you with a night splint to keep the damage from getting worse.
A really stubborn or severe ingrown toenail may call for surgical intervention. This outpatient procedure usually requires nothing more than a local anesthetic, although you might receive a general anesthetic if you prefer to be "out" for the surgery. Your podiatrist may remove the jagged edges of the nail or take out the entire nail.
Don't let an ingrown toenail threaten your quality of life. Contact your podiatrist for additional information or to schedule any necessary treatment.
Walking is simple, right? You just put one foot in front of the other. This can be harder than it sounds if your feet are sore or plagued by ailments like bunions, hammertoe, or plantar fasciitis. If you've ever struggled to simply put one foot in front of the other, you're familiar with this unique pain and frustration. Thankfully, podiatrists have solutions for most common foot ailments. In the articles we've collected here, you can learn all about those solutions, and also about podiatrists in general. We hope that by being more informed, you can take a more preventative approach to foot care also also know what to expect when you seek treatment.