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.
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.)