An ingrown toenail occurs when the corner of the toenail curls downward and grows into the skin on the edge of the toe. This painful condition can cause redness, swelling, and infection.
What You Need To Know About Ingrown Toenails
What Are Ingrown Toenails?
When functioning properly, your toenail should grow over the surface of the toe. An ingrown toenail happens when the nail grows into the outer edge of the toe, causing swelling and pain. They commonly occur on the big toe and can be very painful when walking or doing daily activities.
However, cutting your toenails in a certain way can increase the risk of an ingrown toenail. When you trim your toenails by tapering the corner, it curves into the shape of the toe, and the nail can grow into your skin.
Ingrown toenails are very common and there are simple at-home ingrown toenail treatments to help alleviate symptoms. If you have tried these options and are still struggling with pain due to a bad ingrown toenail, visit Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center and get moving again.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
The primary cause of an ingrown toenail is improper nail trimming technique. Tapering the edge of the nail, cutting the nail too short, or rounding the edges can cause an ingrown to form. Cut the toenail straight across, rather than angling the sides, to avoid an ingrown toenail.
Some people have a genetic predisposition for ingrown toenails. If you have thick or large nails, or if your nail naturally curves down at the edges, you are more likely to develop an ingrown toenail. People with sweatier feet are also more likely to develop this condition.
Improper footwear, socks, and stockings can also contribute to an ingrown toenail. Narrow, tight, or flat footwear puts additional pressure on the toe and may force the nail to grow into the skin. Extra stress or injury to the toe can also cause an ingrown toenail.
Ingrown Toenails Symptoms
An ingrown toenail can be very painful and interfere with your daily activities. It often begins with mild symptoms and worsens over time. Some early-stage symptoms of an ingrown toenail may include:
The skin at the edge of the nail becomes red, swollen, or hard
Tenderness and pain when pressure is applied
Fluid buildup around the area
Mild ingrown toenails usually do not need medical attention. However, if your symptoms continue to worsen, you may have an infected ingrown toenail. Symptoms to watch for include:
Painful, red, and swollen skin
Overgrown skin around the affected area
Shivering or feeling hot
An infected ingrown toenail may cause complications for people with preexisting health conditions. If you suspect that you have an infected ingrown toenail, you should schedule an appointment with a Resurgens physician immediately.
How Are Ingrown Toenails Diagnosed?
A mild ingrown toenail is easy to diagnose at home. However, if you have severe ingrown toenail symptoms, you should visit an experienced foot specialist. During your first Resurgens appointment, your physician will ask you questions about your medical and family history. They will also ask you questions about your symptoms, when they started, and how severe they are. They may also ask you to demonstrate some activities that might be briefly irritating to your toe.
Ingrown toenails can be easily diagnosed with a physical exam. If the toenail is severely infected, your physician may order x-rays and take a sample culture to identify the infection.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment
Mild ingrown toenails can be easily diagnosed and treated at home. However, if it worsens and becomes a severe infection, you should seek medical attention immediately. There are non-surgical and surgical options for ingrown toenail treatment.
A mild ingrown toenail can be easily treated at home. Here are some ways to manage ingrown toenail symptoms.
Soak your feet in warm water for 20 mins 3-4 times per day
Keep your feet dry
Use a wedge to lift the nail, such as a piece of floss or cotton
Apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage
Wear open-toed shoes
Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
If your symptoms don't improve with at-home treatments, you may have an infected ingrown toenail. If you suspect that you have an infection, visit a doctor as soon as possible. Your physician may try:
Prescription antibiotics to get rid of the infection
Lifting the nail with a small splint
Surgically removing a portion of the infected nail. Your doctor will numb the toe beforehand.
Surgically removing the entire nail. If you are severely affected by bad ingrown toenails on the same toe, it may be necessary to remove the whole nail. Your doctor will numb the toe beforehand.
Every patient is unique and has different treatment needs. During your first visit to Resurgens, your physician will talk to you about your options and recommend a treatment plan for you. Schedule an appointment with a Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center doctor today.