In every life, a little rain must fall. Sometimes, that rain comes in the form of a bothersome ingrown toenail.
In most cases, an ingrown toenail is a minor problem and can often be treated at home. There are some cases, however, when you should definitely come in to see us for treatment.
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What is an Ingrown Toenail?
Nails are meant to grow forward at a slow but constant pace. Sometimes, circumstances can cause the nail to instead grow into the surrounding soft flesh of the toe. Although the big toe is the most common site for an ingrown toenail, any toe can be affected.
Symptoms of a standard ingrown toenail include:
- Pain and tenderness
When Should I See a Doctor About an Ingrown Toenail?
With proper home care, a standard ingrown toenail can be resolved in a few days. Not all situations are the same, however.
You should give us a call about your ingrown toenail if any of the following conditions apply:
- Your ingrown toenail is causing you severe pain or interfering with your ability to perform daily functions.
- You see signs of infection in your ingrown toenail, including discharge of pus, a feeling of heat to the touch, or red streaks radiating out from the site of the problem.
- You have diabetes or a condition that affects circulation to your feet.
- Your ingrown toenail, even if minor, is continually coming back.
Even if you are unsure whether any of the above factors apply, or just have questions about your ingrown toenail, we are happy to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us!
What Causes Ingrown Toenails
Knowing what is responsible for an ingrown toenail occurring is a big step in helping to prevent the condition from returning.
A few common causes of ingrown toenails exist, so it’s important to review them all when determining a treatment plan. These are the first items we tend to consider:
- Shoes that have too little room in the toe box can cause the toes to cram together, resulting in nails growing awry.
- Improper nail trimming. Trimming your nails with too much of a curve or too close to the nail bed can cause train the nails to grow inward.
- Injury to the nail (whether from direct blunt force or repetitive sliding against the front of the shoe) can cause it to regrow improperly.
- In some cases, there is a family history of having naturally curving toenails. There are no external factors to blame here; it’s just the way you were born.
Treating Ingrown Toenails
General treatment for ingrown toenails can often be performed at home if there are no concerning factors to the condition. This form of treatment involves soaking the foot, placing a small piece of cotton or dental floss between the ingrown nail and skin, and then dressing with antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
Cases that are more severe, may be infected, or require special care may need to be treated differently, however. We are capable of carefully lifting ingrown toenails in-office when needed, in a professional, sterile environment.
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In some cases, especially when an ingrown nail keeps returning, we may consider a minor surgical procedure to remove part of the nail. The underlying nail bed can be treated to prevent nail tissue from ever growing there again, essentially eliminating the problem for good.