An ingrown toenail occurs when the side or corner of your toenail grows into the surrounding skin. This condition can be extremely painful and even lead to infection if left untreated. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of an ingrown toenail, and if you’re experiencing signs of a problem, seek the help of Dr. Joel Foster as soon as possible.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown nails occur for various reasons. One of the most common is trimming your toenails too short at the edges or corners instead of cutting them properly. Other reasons for this condition include:
- Wearing tight-fitting shoes that press on the sides of your toes
- Trauma to the toenail
- Engaging in activities such as running that put additional pressure on your toes
No matter the cause, ingrown toenails can be painful and lead to significant discomfort. Individuals at a higher risk for this condition include adolescents, athletes, or those with a medical issue such as diabetes, nerve damage in the legs or feet, or poor blood circulation.
Some of the typical symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:
- Pain and tenderness along the sides or corners of your toe
- Redness around the area surrounding the toenail
- Swelling or warmth around the nail
- Overgrown skin that covers the nail
- Skin around the toenail that feels hard to the touch
As the nail grows into the skin, the area may become more inflamed and infected. Blood or pus drainage may also be present as the condition worsens, indicating an infection. You may have difficulty walking or wearing shoes due to the discomfort caused by the ingrown nail.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Ingrown Toenails in Lee's Summit
If you experience signs of an ingrown toenail, it's essential to seek the help from Dr. Joel Foster. First, try some of these at-home remedies:
- Soak the affected toe in warm water and Epsom salt to soften the nail and reduce inflammation.
- Take an over-the-counter pain medication or apply topical antibiotic cream to help with pain and swelling.
- Try to carefully trim the edge of the toe nail that is causing pain.
- Wear roomy shoes or sandals that don’t add pressure to the toes.
However, if the symptoms persist and continue to worsen, don’t ignore the problem. Since an ingrown toenail can be incredibly painful and interfere with your ability to walk or wear shoes, it is essential to seek professional treatment before it leads to more serious complications. An infected ingrown toenail can be dangerous, leading to:
- Non-healing foot wounds
- Cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial skin infection
- Infection that spreads to the bone or surrounding tissue
- Tissue damage
Dr. Joel Foster will determine the most effective treatment for your condition. In more severe cases, minor surgery is often recommended and may involve removing the section of the toenail growing into the skin. Referred to as a nail avulsion, either partial or complete removal may be necessary. For recurring cases, your podiatrist might also advise nail matrix ablation, which permanently prevents the nail, or a part of it, from growing back.
After surgery, your podiatrist may also prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection.
Ingrown Toenail Prevention Tips
To prevent ingrown toenails from occurring in the first place, it’s always important to practice good foot hygiene. Some prevention tips to consider include:
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
- Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow for your toes.
- Always cut your toenails properly, trying not to dig into the corners.
- If you have diabetes, do a daily check of your feet for signs of ingrown toenails.
- Consult with your podiatrist at the first sign of a problem before it becomes more serious.