When a toenail becomes ingrown, it curves into the skin at the side of the nail. That causes irritation and pain, and when left untreated, can lead to infection. When infection occurs, the skin surrounding the nail becomes red, swollen, and warm. It may smell bad or even have a discharge.
While ingrown toenails can occur on any toe, they typically develop on the big toe and may become sore when wearing shoes that are too small or have a crowded toe.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
Many issues can result in an ingrown toenail, but the most common causes are wearing improperly sized shoes and not trimming your toenails correctly. If you trim your toenails too short or round the nail, you increase your risk of developing an ingrown toenail.
Other issues that make an ingrown toenail more likely include heredity and trauma to the toe, such as stubbing it or dropping an object on it. People who play specific sports, especially sports that involve running and kicking, are also more likely to suffer from ingrown toenails.
Also, if you have certain nail conditions, such as a fungal infection, your nails may become dry and brittle, making ingrown toenails more likely.
How Are Ingrown Toenails Treated?
In mild cases, your doctor at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists recommends treating your ingrown toenail with at-home remedies. Some of the most helpful and pain-relieving techniques include:
- Soaking your feet in warm water a few times a day
- Soaking your foot in warm epsom salts
- Placing waxed dental floss or cotton beneath the ingrown nail
- Using an antibiotic cream
- Wearing sandals or open-toed shoes while the nail heals
If these home remedies don’t improve your condition or your ingrown toenail returns, your podiatrist takes a more aggressive approach. If there’s no infection, your doctor may lift the nail, using cotton, floss, or a splint to separate the nail from the skin.
When you have a more severe ingrown toenail, your doctor may recommend partial removal of the nail. They may numb the area and remove the section of the nail that’s ingrown; then they use acid to kill the root. If this doesn’t work, your doctor may surgically remove the nail and infected tissue.
It’s time to end your battle with ingrown toenails. Contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists today to schedule your appointment.