Ingrown Toenails: Home Versus Professional Remedies

An ingrown toenail can be the result of an injury or something that can occur naturally as your toenail grows. In some cases, ingrown nails can be successfully treated at home without having to see a doctor. However, there are other times when seeking the help of a professional, like the podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists, will prevent additional foot health problems.

What is an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails are a common issue that occurs when the side of your toenail grows into the surrounding skin. As a result, your toe becomes red, irritated, and swollen.

Without proper treatment, you can develop an infection in the toe that can be painful, making it difficult to walk comfortably. Infections can also evolve into a more serious problem if your bone becomes infected.

Knowing when to treat at home and when to get help from your doctor can make a lot of difference in the pain you experience and the overall outcome.

When home remedies can help

If you have an ingrown toenail that has mild redness and is slightly irritated, you may be able to treat it at home. You can start with a foot soak in lukewarm water for 15 minutes, three times a day.

Near the affected nail, you can massage your skin gently, trying to push the skin away from the nail. Always dry your foot thoroughly and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

If the foot soak and massage aren’t working after a day or two, schedule an appointment with Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for an evaluation.

When to let the doctor intervene

If you have an ingrown toenail that is extremely painful and difficult to touch, home remedies won’t help. Your doctor can treat the problem before it gets more painful or develops an infection.

You should also seek a doctor’s help immediately if you have diabetes, poor circulation, or other chronic health condition. These conditions can be further complicated by just a minor injury to your foot, such as a small cut, that can lead to a serious infection, a foot ulcer, and even gangrene.

How to avoid ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are often caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. Your toes get crowded together, causing pressure on your nails and forcing them into your skin. Make sure to try on shoes before buying them, ensuring they are comfortable, supportive, and offer plenty of room for your toes to prevent crowding.

Injuries are a leading cause of ingrown toenails. You should protect your feet by wearing shoes or slippers around the house. Also, make sure you keep your floor clear of objects that can cause injuries and avoid walking around in the dark to prevent stubbed toes.

You may also develop ingrown toenails if you aren’t practicing proper nail-cutting techniques. Cutting your nails too short or not cutting them straight across the top can result in the jagged edges growing into your skin. Take time to carefully trim your toenails weekly.

Your doctor at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can not only treat existing ingrown toenails, they can also show you how to properly clip and maintain your toenails to prevent ingrown nail complications, painful infections, and further health issues.

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