At-home remedies are often sufficient for treating an ingrown toenail, but in some cases, a visit to a podiatrist is necessary. Dr. Eric Blanson and his staff at PMC Foot and Ankle Clinic in Spring, Texas see many patients with ingrown toenails.
In this post, we discuss the complications that can arise from an ingrown toenail, as well as some of the treatments available.
Symptoms of ingrown toenails
You probably know exactly how an ingrown toenail feels, but do you know why it happens? Normally your toenail grows straight out from your nail bed, but sometimes it can begin growing into the soft skin at the edge of your nail bed. Most of the time, this happens on the big toe, but it can occur on any toe.
The skin around an ingrown toenail becomes red, tender, and irritated. Complications can include infection, which usually only affects the tissue around the nail but in rare cases can affect your bone.
If you have diabetes or problems with circulation, your risk of complications is much higher. Good blood flow helps injuries and wounds on your feet heal so if you have any circulatory issues, you are more likely to develop infections from ingrown toenails.
What causes ingrown toenails?
The most common reason people have ingrown nails is due to poor trimming techniques. It’s important to cut your toenails straight across rather than cutting them too short or curving the edges.
You may also get ingrown toenails by wearing improperly fitted shoes or injuring your foot. People who are obese, have diabetes, or have particularly sweaty feet tend to have ingrown toenails more often than others.
At-home treatments for ingrown toenails
One of the first steps in treating an ingrown toenail at home is to soak it in warm water with Epsom salts. Soaking your feet for 20 minutes up to three times per day can help soften the skin and ease the pain of an ingrown toenail.
Applying a gentle over-the-counter antibiotic ointment may also speed healing and decrease your risk of infection. Finally, taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may help reduce the pain and lower swelling.
When medical care is necessary
If you have a condition that makes it harder for wounds on your feet to heal, like diabetes or poor circulation, you should see Dr. Blanson as soon as you realize your toenail is ingrown.
Even if you don’t have such a condition, you should make an appointment for professional care if your pain increases or if the ingrown toenail affects your ability to stand or walk,
Infection is the most common complication from an ingrown toenail. If you notice any signs of infection, you should schedule an appointment. Some of the common symptoms of infection include:
- The skin on your toe becomes very red
- Your toe or foot feels warm to the touch
- Your toe is swollen
- The area is painful
- You notice pus
It is never a good idea to try to remove an ingrown toenail by yourself. Doing so can result in worse infection and cause a great deal of pain.
Ingrown toenail treatments
Dr. Blanson has the skill and knowledge necessary to treat your ingrown toenail and to help you understand how to avoid them in the future. He may suggest a splint under the nail to prevent it from growing into your skin.
Another common treatment involves Dr. Blanson cutting out the part of the toenail that is growing into your skin. He uses sterilized, specialized equipment and has the training necessary to do this safely. In some instances, Dr. Blanson recommends removing your toenail entirely to prevent future problems.
We can also show you how to properly trim your nails and make footwear suggestions to help you enjoy healthy feet. If you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of ingrown toenail complications, schedule your appointment at PMC Foot and Ankle Clinic today.