Ingrown toenails can be very painful and flat out annoying! Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about them including the treatment options available to get rid of them.
An ingrown toenail occurs when your nail grows into the skin fold beside your nail. Your body will treat it like a foreign object and initiate an inflammatory response against it, resulting in a red, swollen, painful toe. In addition, because the skin barrier is now broken, you run the risk of an infection. How can you tell if you have an infection?
- pus (a cloudy yellow-ish white liquid),
- increased tenderness
- increased swelling and redness and tendencies for the area to bleed easily.
To treat an ingrown toenail, start by doing foot soaks in a salt-water bath for approximately 10 minutes every night. Make sure to keep the toe clean, dry and covered with a small amount of Polysporin ointment and a bandage. Avoid trimming the nail yourself, which can lead to more problems. Your best bet is to book an appointment with a Chiropodist who will properly trim the toenail and prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic if needed. Depending on the severity and frequency of the ingrown toenail, either periodic visits for nail care or a minor surgery to permanently remove the offending nail edge may be recommended.
The surgery consists of numbing the toe with a local anesthetic, then removing the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin, and finally, applying a chemical to the nail root to prevent regrowth. This procedure takes about 30 minutes to an hour. Most people can drive home after, and it is recommended to reduce your activity for a day or so following the surgery.
To prevent ingrown toenails from occurring, don’t cut your toenails too short or too deep; rather cut your nails straight across and file the corners smooth. In addition, avoid wearing shoes that are too narrow for your feet. If you’re active, wear proper footwear for the activity and try to avoid injury. If you have trouble seeing or reaching your toenails or have been diagnosed with diabetes, seek a health care professional for all your foot and nail concerns. All in all, when you start to experience pain at your toe and suspect an ingrown toenail, don’t ignore the symptoms. The sooner you address the issue, the easier it is to treat and the better the outcome.