What is an ingrown toenail?
Ingrown toenails happen most often on the largest toe of the foot. They happen when the nail begins to grow under the surrounding skin. Often, this can be the result of a genetic predisposition, a side effect of wearing shoes that are too tight around the toes, which can push the nail downward as it grows, or happy after cutting the nail too short. Some people also develop ingrown toenails after they have sustained an injury to their toe, foot, or the nail itself. Ingrown toenails are not always severe enough to require treatment from a podiatrist, but when they are left untreated, they can become worse or infected, making it a good idea to speak with a foot specialist to discuss your options for treatment, removal, and prevention.
Is treatment painful?
Ingrown toenails are painful in and of themselves. While treatment to address them may not be comfortable, it is essential to relieve the pressure caused by the ingrown toenail in order to achieve relief from pain in the future. By addressing the ingrown nail, you be able to achieve not only a healthier foot, but more comfort when wearing your favorite shoes. The first treatment will simply involve lifting the nail from under the skin at your doctor’s office. This can be somewhat painful, but you will notice immediate relief from pain and pressure once the nail has been successfully extracted. If at-home remedies do not resolve the pain, or if you experience repeated instances, you may eventually wish to undergo surgical removal of all or part of the toenail. Recovery from surgery is minimally painful and you will be able to resolve your ingrown toenails permanently afterward, allowing you to enjoy comfort and freedom from toe pain in the future.
What can I do to prevent ingrown toenails at home?
The most important things you can do to stop ingrown toenails from happening are to trim the nails appropriately and wear well-fitting shoes. You should cut your nail approximately the same length as your toe. If it is cut too short, it could increase your chances of developing ingrown nails. Wearing sensible footwear will relieve pressure on the toe and not press the nail down under the tissue surrounding it. If you already have an ingrown toenail, you can try to soak your feet in warm water to soften the skin and allow you to lift the nail more easily. Antibiotic cream applied to the ingrown nail can help prevent infections and taking over-the-counter pain relivers can help reduce pain and make you more comfortable while your nail and toe heal.
If you have an ingrown toenail or get them frequently, discussing your situation with an experienced podiatrist can ensure effective treatment and prevention of ingrown toenails in the future. Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists have 4 convenient locations in the Chicago, IL area in Elgin, Huntley, Schaumburg, and Montclare. Call us today to schedule your appointment.