Ingrown Toenail Treatment
posted: Apr. 07, 2021.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment
Although an ingrown toenail sounds like a minor problem, it can be painful, and infection is also a possibility. Some people, such as individuals with diabetes or a weakened immune system, can develop more serious infections.
In most cases, an ingrown toenail occurs due to cutting the toenails incorrectly. It is helpful to cut the toenail straight across and not to match the curve of the nail. An ingrown toenail may also develop when shoes are worn too tightly. The edge of the toenail goes into the corner of the toe and pierces the skin leading to irritation. In some cases, an infection can occur from the opening in the skin.
Ingrown toenail symptoms
Most people recognize when they have an ingrown toenail due to the symptoms. Since the nail grows into the skin on the corners of the toe, it tends to hurt during walking.
Symptoms of an ingrown nail may include:
- Red skin around the nail
- Pain, which may occur only when walking or wearing shoes
- A cut in the skin around the nail
If the area has become infected, pain may worsen, and pus may ooze from the skin.
Should you see a foot specialist?
How do you know if you need to see a foot specialist? Usually, treatment at home may be enough to help relieve symptoms of an ingrown toenail. For example, soaking the foot in warm water, using an antibiotic ointment, and avoiding wearing tight shoes may help reduce symptoms. But there are instances when seeing a foot specialist is your best bet.
See a foot specialist in the following cases:
- Pain is severe
- Home treatment was not helpful
- You have diabetes and are more likely to develop complications
- You keep getting ingrown toenails
Podiatry treatment for an ingrown toenail
The treatment needed for an ingrown toenail may depend on whether an infection is present, the severity of symptoms, and if the problem is recurrent. Treatment may include:
Lift the nail
When the nail is painful, a foot specialist may suggest lifting the edge of the nail and placing a small piece of cotton underneath. As the nail is lifted, it allows the skin to heal and the nail to grow above the skin.
In some instances, if other treatments do not work, surgery for an ingrown toenail may be recommended. Surgery for an ingrown toenail is a minor procedure that is done in the office.
The procedure involves administering medication to numb the toe. Then the portion of the nail growing into the skin is removed. Antibiotic ointment and gauze are placed around the toe. You are given instructions to change the gauze after 24 hours. You may also be told to stay off your feet as much as possible for about a day.
Most people can get back to regular activities the next day. You will likely be told to wear loose shoes for a few days. Pain is usually minimal and controlled with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
Preventing an ingrown toenail
An occasional ingrown toenail is common. But if the problem keeps occurring, talk with your foot specialist. Consider taking the following steps to decrease your risk of an ingrown toenail:
- Instead of cutting the nail to follow the curve of the toe, cut it straight across.
- Go to a podiatrist to cut your toenails if you are at an increased risk of infection from an ingrown toenail.
- Do not wear shoes or socks that are too tight.
- Keep toenails at a moderate length. Cutting them too short may lead to an ingrown nail.
If you have any questions or have symptoms of an ingrown toenail, we are happy to help. Also, if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Podiatrist Sheldon Nadal, D.P.M at Bayview Eglinton Podiatry Clinic in Toronto.