Understanding Ingrown Toenails: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Ingrown toenails are a common and often painful condition that can affect people of all ages. This condition occurs when the edge or corner of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to discomfort, inflammation, and potential infection. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ingrown toenails, as well as provide helpful tips for prevention.

Causes of Ingrown Toenails:

Several factors can contribute to the development of ingrown toenails, including:

  • Improper nail trimming: Cutting nails too short or rounding the edges can encourage the nail to grow into the skin.
  • Tight or ill-fitting footwear: Shoes that squeeze the toes or put excessive pressure on the toenails can lead to ingrown nails.
  • Trauma or injury: Stubbing your toe or having repetitive trauma to the nail can cause it to grow abnormally.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some individuals have a natural tendency to develop ingrown toenails due to inherited nail shape or structure.

Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails:

  • Pain and tenderness along the sides of the affected toenail.
  • Redness, swelling, and inflammation around the nail.
  • Formation of a skin fold or overgrowth of skin at the edge of the nail.
  • Drainage or pus if the nail becomes infected.

Treatment Options:

Home remedies include:

  • Soak the foot: Soaking the affected foot in warm water with Epsom salts a few times a day can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Proper nail care: Trim the nails straight across and avoid rounding the corners. Gently lift the ingrown edge with a cotton ball or dental floss to encourage proper growth. *DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE INGROWN NAIL ON YOUR OWN*
  • Apply antibiotic ointment: If the ingrown toenail becomes infected, applying an antibiotic ointment and covering it with a bandage can help prevent further complications.

Professional medical Intervention is often needed:

  • Professional nail trimming: If you’re unable to trim the ingrown toenail properly or have difficulty accessing it, a podiatrist can assist in safely removing the portion of the nail causing the problem.
  • Partial nail removal: When the condition persists despite at home care or when the ingrown toenail recurs, a podiatrist will recommend removing a portion of the nail or the entire nail to promote proper growth. This portion of the nail can be removed temporarily, allowing it to regrow, or permanently to prevent the condition from coming back in the future.
  • Antibiotics: If an infection is present, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the infection and prevent its spread.

Preventive Measures:

To reduce the risk of ingrown toenails, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Trim nails properly: Cut nails straight across and avoid rounding the corners. Don’t trim them too short. Do not dig into the corners and try to remove it yourself as this almost always causes the condition to get worse.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Opt for footwear with adequate toe room and avoid shoes that squeeze or compress the toes.
  • Wear toe spacers or a toe cap to reduce pressure from adjacent toes or shoes.

Take home points:

NEVER attempt to remove your own ingrown toenail. It will end up becoming worse, even if you temporarily get resolution. At worst, you turn your aggravating problem into an urgent one requiring immediate treatment. Common outcomes from doing this are painful infection, excessive tissue growth over the toenail, and the need for more aggressive or invasive treatment than would have been otherwise been needed.

Pedicurists are not licensed to remove ingrown toenails and are not trained to evaluate and treat your condition. NEVER ask your pedicurist to perform a medical procedure on you which should only be performed by a podiatric surgeon. Many complications can and do occur from this.

Urgent cares and ER’s will not remove ingrown toenails, they will only provide antibiotics. Antibiotics are not usually needed if we can get the toenail removed in a timely manner. While generally considered safe, there are many adverse effects of taking oral antibiotics and you should avoid these if possible. Your podiatrist is the only medical professional you should have remove your ingrown nail.

The thought of removing a toenail can make many people feel uneasy. Unfortunately, there are not any other good options to treat this condition and removing the ingrown nail is most often necessary. We can assure you that the procedure is very quick, easy to tolerate, and offers immediate relief for your condition. You will be very thankful that you chose to have it done.

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