Toenails seem like they wouldn’t cause too much trouble. They just sit down there, on the tops of your toes, and hang out all day. Well, that’s not quite true. It may happen at the proverbial “snail’s pace,” but they are actually moving. This is fine if things go as they should, but when they become ingrown and dig into your skin, it becomes very troublesome.
Why Do Ingrown Toenails Happen?
There are various root causes behind ingrown nails, but they all end up with the same inherent problem – your nail has started to grow inward and dig into your skin. In most cases, if a toenail stays on its proper course, this won’t happen. For some individuals, the tendency for a nail to become ingrown is actually an inherited condition.
In most cases, however, ingrown toenails are the result of a preventable situation. Improper trimming is the most common cause and the problem happens because nails are clipped too short, rounded off, or both. Another frequently noted reason are shoes that do not fit correctly. If your footwear is too tight or short, it crowds your toes and forces the nails to grow into the soft flesh. Injury, particularly when something heavy is dropped on a foot, can also lead to this painful condition.
How Do I Know if I Have an Ingrown Nail?
The signs and symptoms that accompany this common condition include:
- Typically felt along the side(s) of the nail, pain and tenderness are clear indications that something is wrong.
- If your toenail has become ingrown, you will be able to observe redness around it.
- As your body tries to protect itself, the affected area will become swollen.
- Given that your nail has punctured your skin, it creates an opening for microbial organisms to enter and cause an infection. This may lead to drainage and foul odor.
Home Remedies for Ingrown Toenails
As with any condition that causes you pain or severe discomfort, we advocate the use of conservative treatment first. There is a possibility that a surgical procedure will ultimately be necessary, but see if the following improve the situation:
- Switch your footwear to sensible shoes that fit properly. Even better, wear sandals or open-toed shoes (if possible). This will keep pressure off of the sensitive, irritated skin tissue affected by the ingrown nail.
- Soak your feet in a basin of warm water for 15 to 20 minutes to relieve tenderness and reduce swelling.
- Place antibiotic cream or ointment on the affected area, to prevent infection, and cover with a bandage.
- Consult with our office first, but over-the-counter pain relievers can be beneficial in easing your toe pain.
Professional Treatment for Ingrown Toenails
If the home care was insufficient for helping with your condition, it is time to seek the professional treatment our Manalapan Township, NJ office can provide. The various options we may employ include lifting the nail, partial nail removal, and completely removing the nail. When your nail is only slightly ingrown, a nail lift might be beneficial. Sanjay Gandhi, DPM, will carefully lift the nail to separate it from overlying skin and encourage growth above the edge of the skin instead of into it.
Severe cases will often require either a partial or full removal of the offensive nail tissue. The key distinction between the procedures is that a full removal is more commonly used for patients who continually experience the same problem with the same nail.
In all likelihood, you would rather not have to endure an ingrown nail in the first place. Steps to prevent this condition include:
- Trim your nails straight across and keep them even with the edge of your toes.
- Always wear shoes that provide room for your toes to wiggle.
- Wear protective footwear if you will be handling heavy items.
Your Manalapan Township, NJ Foot Care Specialists
Ingrown toenails are just one of the many foot and ankle conditions that we effectively treat for our patients. No matter what is causing your pain or discomfort, find the relief you need at A Step Up Podiatry, LLC at Manalapan, NJ. Call us today at (732) 446-7136 or use our online form to request an appointment.