Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are more than just a nuisance. The constant pain in your toe may keep you from wearing your favorite pair of shoes or participating in hobbies or activities you used to enjoy. In severe cases, ingrown toenails can even lead to a nasty infection.

Fortunately, they are also very easy for a podiatrist like Dr. Sanjay Patel to treat. After just one quick office appointment, we can have you back on your feet and feeling a lot better. So there’s no reason to wait any longer!

What Are Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails are a relatively common problem in which the edge or border of hard nail tissue curves and digs into the surrounding soft flesh, rather than growing out like it’s supposed to. Any nail can be affected, though the largest toes on each foot are the most at risk.

Common symptoms include pain, moderate to extreme sensitivity and tenderness, redness, and swelling around the nail. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the nail may become infected. It could even provide an opening for a fungal nail infection.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails? And Why Do They Keep Coming Back?

There are several possible causes of ingrown toenails. The most common include:

  • Improper nail trimming. Cutting your nails too short may allow the nails to curl as they grow out, increasing the risk that they become ingrown. Cut them even with the ends of your toes, and do not round the corners.
  • Poor footwear. Shoes that are too tight in the area of the toebox can restrict nail growth and push the hard tissue inward instead of outward.
  • Direct trauma. Sometimes, a specific injury (such as dropping an object on your foot, or stubbing your toe) may be the cause of your ingrown toenail.
  • Genetics. Some people were born with toenails that are naturally more curved than usual. Unfortunately, this may lead to recurring cases of ingrown toenails until you seek more permanent treatment.

Can I Fix My Ingrown Toenails at Home?

In some cases you can, although most of the time we recommend professional treatment because it is faster, safer, and more convenient.

If you only have mild pain, no signs of infection, and no complicating conditions (such as diabetes or neuropathy), you may attempt to relieve pain at home.

Soaking your feet for 15 minutes at a time, a few times per day may help with inflammation. After soaking, you may attempt to gently lift the ingrown portion of the nail and place a piece of dental floss underneath.

Apply antibiotic cream to reduce the risk of infection, and make sure you always wear shoes with a lot of wiggle room in the toes.

Never attempt to trim or cut the nail borders yourself, as this will likely only make things worse. Also, do not cut a “V” shaped notch into your toenail. (It doesn’t work.)

When Should I See a Doctor for My Ingrown Toenails?

Discontinue home treatment and see us immediately if:

  • Symptoms do not improve, or worsen
  • You have diabetes, neuropathy, PAD, or any other condition affecting nerve health, circulation, or immune function in your feet
  • Any signs of infection are present
  • Pain is severe and/or limiting your daily activities
  • Ingrown toenails are a recurring problem for you

How Does Dr. Patel Treat Ingrown Toenails?

Once we’ve determined that conservative treatments are not sufficient, we will perform a minor, painless in-office procedure to remove the painful ingrown portion of the nail. If necessary, we may also perform a second minor procedure to keep it from growing back.

First, we numb the toe using a local anesthetic. This will prevent you from any discomfort during the procedure itself. Next, we’ll gently cut out and remove the ingrown portion of the nail.

At this point, based on our conversation with you beforehand, we may or may not perform the second procedure to remove a portion of the nail matrix as well.

  • If we don’t do this, your nail will grow back—hopefully straighter than before. However, you may get another ingrown toenail in the future, especially if one of the initial causes was genetic.
  • If we do perform this procedure, new nail tissue will no longer be able to grow from the section that we remove. The recurrence rate for ingrown toenails afterward is nearly zero.

Once these minor surgeries are complete, we will bandage you up and send you on your way.

We recommend you take it easy the first few days—your toe will need some time to heal, so you should avoid activities that could aggravate it. Keep your feet clean and wear closed-toed shoes with a lot of wiggle room in the front to protect your digit.

That said, most people are able to return to everyday activities (work, school, etc.) within 24 hours of the procedure, and more active hobbies soon thereafter. We’ve even had our athletic patients return to training and even racing within a few days to weeks of treatment.

Already by the time the anesthetic wears off, you should be feeling a lot better.

What If My Child Has Ingrown Toenails?

Bring your little one in for treatment!

Ingrown toenails are common in children, for many reasons. They’re relatively more likely than adults to accidentally injure their toes, and they’re constantly outgrowing their shoes—tight footwear is a major risk factor for ingrown toenails.

Plus, if the ingrown toenail has a genetic component, even very young children may have a recurring problem with them.

Not to worry, though, because we love working with kids. The procedure, as we said, is painless and administered with gentleness. And we do everything we can to make your little one feel welcomed, safe, and secure.

Get the Care You Need

If you’re struggling with nails that aren’t growing the way they should—and causing you pain—don’t worry, and don’t wait to seek relief. Call Patel Podiatry Family Foot Care & Surgery. We will take care of your toenails so you can go back to living your best life!

Complete a contact form online, or dial 203-876-7736.