Our TX Podiatrists Have Extensive Experience Treating Chronic Ingrown Toenails   

If you continue to suffer from ingrown toenails—they never seem to heal, they often develop at the same site, or they keep coming back, this painful nail condition may be chronic. However, effective treatments are available. The skilled podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists understand how agonizing an ingrown toenail can be and have treated hundreds of patients with this foot condition. Here, we discuss the best treatment options and when it’s important to see a foot doctor. Treating ingrown toenails

Understanding Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail, also called onychocryptosis, is a painful foot condition that happens when the edge or corner of a toenail grows into the soft flesh of the toe, causing pain, redness, and swelling. In some cases, an ingrown toenail can become infected. An ingrown toenail most commonly affects the big toe but can also occur on other toes.

Approximately 20% of people who visit their doctor for a foot problem do so for an ingrown toenail. This condition is very common, and teens and young adults often develop it because they’re likely to sweat more; however, older people suffer from ingrown toenails, too. The older you get, the more difficult it may be to bend down, making it a challenge to take care of your feet and toenails. Also, as you age, your toenails become thicker and harder to cut.   

It’s sometimes possible to treat an ingrown toenail at home, but it’s important to get it looked at by a podiatrist. Because an ingrown nail can become infected, treating it with a warm soak or over-the-counter cream may only delay critical professional care

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are very common and can develop for a variety of reasons, including heredity. Genetics are a significant factor in how your toenails are shaped. If, for example, you have a pincer toenail—one that is curled and turned inward rather than flat—you face a higher risk of an ingrown toenail because your nails are more inclined to dig into your skin. Other causes of ingrown toenails include the following:

  • Improper nail trimming
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight or that cram your toes together
  • Poor foot hygiene
  • Excessive foot sweating (hyperhidrosis
  • Injury or trauma to the toe
  • Participating in sports that involve kicking or running, such as soccer and football

When Ingrown Toenails Become a Chronic Condition

Anyone can experience an ingrown toenail, but the condition usually goes away with proper treatment. However, when an ingrown toenail persists or recurs, the problem is considered chronic. An ingrown toenail is never pleasant, and it becomes even worse when the condition develops over and over.

When a person has an ingrown toenail that is caused by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, the way they trim their toenails, or improper foot hygiene, the condition usually does not become chronic as long as it is properly treated and heals fully, and the person changes the behavior that caused the ingrown toenail to start with.

However, not all ingrown toenails are caused by something a person can easily change. If you have pincer nails that are hereditary, you can’t control that. An athlete who participates in a sport that puts them at risk for frequent ingrown toenails may not be willing or able to give up their sport.

Treatment Options for Ingrown Toenails

There are several ways to treat ingrown toenails, depending on the severity and reoccurrence of the condition. Whether your ingrown toenail is acute or chronic, our dedicated podiatrists will work closely with you to determine the best treatment plan.

Treatments for Mild Ingrown Toenails

If you have a mild ingrown toenail, your foot doctor may recommend possible treatments, including the following:

  • Soaking. When you have an ingrown toenail, soaking your foot in warm water can help reduce swelling and tenderness. It may also be helpful to add Epsom salt to the water.
  • Taking medication. Foot doctors often recommend applying antibiotic ointment to ingrown toenails to prevent or treat infection.
  • Lifting the nail. Your podiatrist may lift the ingrown nail and place a small piece of cotton or a splint under it so the nail can grow above the edge of the skin.

If your doctor suspects that your ingrown toenail is related to the way you cut your toenails, your foot hygiene, or the fit of your shoes, they will provide you with education on how to properly groom your toenails and select properly fitting shoes as a way of helping you avoid getting ingrown toenails in the future.

Medical Interventions for Serious or Chronic Ingrown Toenails

For chronic and more serious ingrown toenails, further medical intervention may be required, including the following:

  • Toenail removal. If your toenail is severely ingrown, your podiatrist may recommend surgically removing part or all of it. This procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia.
  • Matrixectomy. For a chronic ingrown toenail, your foot doctor may recommend a matrixectomy. This procedure involves removing or treating tissue under the nail that produces nail growth to prevent the affected part of the nail from growing back.

Proper wound care is essential following either of these procedures. If you undergo one of these procedures, your podiatrist will provide detailed instructions on how to keep the area clean and may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Follow-up care is important so your foot doctor can monitor your healing, help prevent reoccurrence, and catch issues quickly if the problem does return.

How to Know When to See Our Texas Podiatrists

Ingrown toenails are painful, and they can get worse without proper treatment. As with all foot wounds, discussing your situation with a podiatric professional is critical. You should see a podiatrist any time you suspect you have an ingrown toenail, whether it is an unusual occurrence or a chronic problem that you experience regularly. This is especially true if you have an underlying health condition that may affect foot health, such as diabetes, which can increase the risk of complications related to an ingrown toenail.

Timely and appropriate treatment by a podiatrist can effectively manage chronic ingrown toenails and prevent complications. Whether you have an underlying health condition or not, it’s very important to see a foot doctor immediately when you experience any of the following issues related to an ingrown toenail or another foot problem:

  • Persistent or recurrent ingrown toenails despite home treatments
  • Severe or worsening pain or discomfort
  • Signs of infection, which include increased redness, swelling, pus, liquid discharge, or warmth

Our Dallas-Fort Worth Podiatrists Can Help

There is help for chronic ingrown toenails and other forms of chronic foot pain. Our Tarrant County, Texas podiatrists treat patients with foot and ankle issues every week in our Grapevine and Keller offices. Our experienced foot doctors will be more than happy to evaluate your condition and recommend an appropriate course of treatment specific to your situation. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to take the next step toward freedom from the pain of chronic ingrown toenails.  

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