What Should You Do About an Ingrown Toenail?

Jun 20, 2023

Ingrown toenails can be a painful and bothersome condition that affects many individuals. Understanding what causes ingrown toenails, how to alleviate the pain at home, and when to seek professional help is crucial for effective management. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, prevention methods, home remedies, treatment options, and when to get an appointment with our offices for ingrown toenails.

What are Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur when the edges or corners of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin, causing pain, redness, and inflammation. This condition most commonly affects the big toe but can also occur in other toes.

What Do Ingrown Toenails Look Like?

The affected area may appear red, swollen, and tender. As the nail grows into the skin, it can cause the skin to break and develop into an open sore, leading to potential infection.

What are the Other Symptoms?

In addition to the visible signs, other symptoms of ingrown toenails include:

  • Pain and tenderness around the affected area.
  • Increased sensitivity to pressure, such as when wearing shoes or walking.
  • Formation of pus or discharge if an infection is present.
  • Development of a foul odor in severe cases.

Why Do Ingrown Toenails Hurt So Much?

Ingrown toenails can be quite painful due to the pressure exerted on the surrounding skin and the potential for infection. When the nail grows into the skin, it irritates the underlying tissue, leading to inflammation and discomfort.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Several factors contribute to the development of ingrown toenails, including:

  • Improper nail trimming: Cutting the nails too short or rounding the edges can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
  • Tight-fitting shoes: Wearing shoes that squeeze the toes together can increase the likelihood of ingrown toenails.
  • Trauma or injury: Stubbing the toe or repetitive pressure on the nail can result in ingrown toenails.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some individuals may have a hereditary tendency to develop ingrown toenails.
  • Fungal infections: Fungal nail infections can thicken and deform the nails, making them more susceptible to becoming ingrown.

Woman clipping toenails which if done wrong can lead to an ingrown toenail

Can I Alleviate the Pain at Home?

While home remedies may help alleviate the discomfort associated with ingrown toenails, they may not completely resolve the issue. However, if the condition is mild, you can try the following measures:

  • Soak the toe: Soak the affected foot in warm water mixed with Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes, several times a day. This can help reduce inflammation and soften the skin.
  • Use a toe protector: Apply a toe protector or a small piece of cotton under the ingrown nail to lift it slightly and prevent further irritation.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment: Doing this at least twice a day will help prevent infection and may also reduce pain.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Choose shoes that provide ample space for your toes and avoid tight-fitting footwear.

What Should I Not Do at Home?

While self-care can be beneficial, it’s essential to avoid certain practices that can worsen the condition:

  • Don’t attempt to dig or cut the ingrown nail yourself, as this can lead to infection and further complications.
  • Avoid wearing tight shoes or high heels that put additional pressure on the affected toe.
  • Refrain from using sharp objects to try and remove the ingrown nail, as this can cause injury and increase the risk of infection.

When Should I See the Doctor About Ingrown Toenails?

If the pain persists, there are signs of infection (such as increased redness, swelling, pus, or a foul odor), or you have diabetes or a compromised immune system, it is advisable to contact our offices to seek medical attention. Additionally, if home remedies do not provide relief or the condition worsens, our doctors and foot care team can provide proper diagnosis and treatment options.

How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

Preventing ingrown toenails involves adopting good foot hygiene practices and taking certain precautions:

  • Trim nails properly: Cut nails straight across, avoiding curved edges, and do not cut them too short.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Choose shoes that provide enough room for your toes and do not squeeze or compress them.
  • Maintain good foot hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent fungal infections that can contribute to ingrown toenails.
  • Protect your feet: When engaging in activities that may result in foot trauma, wear protective footwear.

What Should I Do if the Condition Persists?

If your ingrown toenail continues to cause pain or becomes infected despite home remedies and preventive measures, it is important to see our podiatrists. They will evaluate the severity of the condition and recommend the appropriate treatment options.

Depending on the severity of the ingrown toenail, treatment options may include:

  • Lifting the nail: Our doctors may gently lift the ingrown edge of the nail and place a splint, cotton, or dental floss under it to help it grow above the skin.
  • Partial nail removal: In more severe cases, a portion of the nail may need to be removed to allow proper healing.
  • Antibiotics: If an infection is present, our doctors may prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.
  • Nail avulsion: In recurrent or severe cases, our doctors may recommend a procedure to remove the ingrown portion of the nail and apply a chemical to prevent regrowth.

Let Us Help Treat Your Ingrown Toenails

If you are seeking professional help for your ingrown toenail or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts is here to provide the necessary care and guidance to ensure your foot health and well-being. You can call us at (480) 962-4281 or fill out our online contact form today to get your appointment scheduled. It’s time to get your ingrown toenail taken treated and gone from your life for good!