If you’re wondering if you have an ingrown toenail or are simply interested in learning more about them, read on. This post will explain what exactly ingrown toenails are, what you can do about them, and how you can get some much-needed relief when they’re making your life difficult.
What are Ingrown Toenails?
An ingrown toenail happens when the toenail grows into the toe itself. Instead of growing up and away from the toe as it normally would, it leans inward and forces its way into the flesh, causing major discomfort.
This commonly happens around the inner corner of the toenail but can also involve any part of the toe/toenail connection in the direction of the nail’s growth. The toenail can curl over and into the top of the toe as well, though this is less common.
What Do Ingrown Toenails Look Like?
Unless it’s an advanced case, the most common appearance of ingrown toenails is the swelling and redness that occurs in the surrounding flesh. The fact that the toenail is pushed into the toe itself makes it difficult to identify by looking, but it can be felt.
In severe cases, the toe skin can separate from the nail bed, or the toenail can curl over the surrounding skin, which makes it easier to see — and a lot more painful. However, most people get help before this level of an ingrown toenail is reached due to the discomfort they’re feeling.
Why are Ingrown Toenails so Painful?
If you’ve ever been scratched by a toenail, you’ll know how sharp they can be. This is the reason ingrown toenails are so painful; your toenail is piercing the surrounding skin and flesh, which is already sensitive to begin with.
Also, the swelling that results creates additional pressure on the toe, making it extremely painful whenever anything touches it. Shoes, blankets, socks, other toes, and even the act of walking barefoot can cause further pain and irritation to an ingrown toenail.
What is Causing My Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenails have several different causes. Cutting toenails too short, rounding the nail (leaving sharp corners that puncture the skin), wearing restrictive footwear that pinches toes together for long periods, and trauma to the foot can all be causes of ingrown toenails.
What Can I Do Myself to Help My Ingrown Toenail?
If you suspect you have an ingrown toenail, the best course of action is to seek professional help before it gets worse. However, if you prefer to try treating it at home first, here are a few remedies that can be helpful to reduce the swelling and prevent infections:
Soak in warm, soapy water: This keeps the area clean and softens the surrounding skin, relieving pressure.
Soak in (diluted) apple cider vinegar: This will reduce inflammation and help to prevent infection.
Soak in Epsom salts: Works to relieve pain and pressure.
Antibiotic ointment: Helps to prevent infection and may also reduce pain.
Wear comfortable, non-restrictive shoes: Keeping the pressure off your toe will provide some relief.
It’s also important to note that attempting to remove the ingrown toenail yourself is dangerous and should not be attempted. It risks further injury and infection, only making the problem worse. If you feel your toenail is at the point where surgery is needed, seek help from a professional. Our team would love to help!
When Do I Need to Seek Professional Help from the Doctors at Advanced Ankle & Foot?
Ideally, you’ll come to see us at the first sign of an ingrown toenail. We have the experience needed to provide you with the proper care and will get your toenail back to normal as quickly as we can.
However, if you’ve opted for the home remedy route and aren’t finding any relief, your toenail is getting more painful, more swollen, or seems like it’s infected, it’s time to book an appointment with us. We’ll provide you with the much-needed relief you need and get you on the path to healing.
If you have certain health conditions such as diabetes and/or neuropathy, any injury or issue you find on your foot should be brought to our attention sooner rather than later to avoid major issues.
How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails from Coming Back?
The best way to prevent an ingrown toenail from coming back is to get professional care from the moment you feel discomfort. Coming to see us early will ensure that the toe heals properly, which reduces the risk of the ingrown toenail returning.
However, there are some other things that you can do to help. Wearing comfortable, non-restrictive shoes, trimming toenails straight across, not too short, and regularly, and protecting your feet from injury (when carrying heavy objects or working construction, for example) are all good ways to prevent ingrown toenails from returning.
What if My Ingrown Toenail Keeps Coming Back?
If you have an ingrown toenail that keeps coming back, it’s important that you come see us. Not only can we provide you with the relief you need from your discomfort and help your ingrown toenail to heal properly, but we can also help you determine the cause of your repeated ingrown toenails.
We can also perform a simple procedure to ensure that an ingrown toenail will not come back by removing the side of the nail and fixing the nail bed to not allow it to grow back into the skin of the toe.
Contact Us Today for Relief!
Ingrown toenails are a pain, and no one wants to have to deal with them. However, they do happen once in a while, but we’re here for you when they do!
We’ll use our extensive experience to help you feel better as soon as possible, so you can get back to living your life pain-free. Contact us today and we’ll help you say goodbye to that ingrown toenail for good!