Ingrown toenails seem like such a little problem, yet they can cause significant pain and discomfort, and turn into a potentially severe infection. The doctors at Metropolitan Foot and Ankle Specialists can provide advice for home care of ingrown toenails, but when your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s essential to get their expert treatment to prevent complications. To schedule a thorough foot examination, call their office in Aurora, Colorado, or book an appointment online.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail curves and grows into the skin. It usually occurs at the side of the nail and most often affects your big toe.
You can develop an ingrown toenail due to:
Cutting your nails too short is the most common cause of an ingrown toenail because it allows the skin to fold over the nail.
Shoes that are too short or tight push the nail against the skin, triggering an ingrown nail.
In some cases, an ingrown toenail is the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe or after an object falls on your toe. You can also develop an ingrown nail from activities that place repeated pressure on your toes, such as kicking or running.
Fungal infections can lead to an ingrown toenail.
Ingrown toenails typically cause pain, redness, and swelling. If the nail breaks the skin, bacteria can enter and cause an infection, causing symptoms such as drainage and a foul odor.
It’s important to know that even if your toe is not painful, red, or swollen, a nail that curves downward can still progress to an infection.
You shouldn't attempt to self-treat an ingrown toenail if you have an infection. Don’t try to treat it yourself if you have a medical condition that increases your risk for foot problems, such as diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation.
To treat your ingrown toenail at home, soak your foot in room-temperature water and gently massage the side of the nail to help reduce inflammation. When you trim your toenail, cut a straight line and don’t make it too short.
Please do not do the following at home because the problem may worsen:
Repeatedly trim nail borders
Cut a notch in the nail
Place cotton under the nail
Use topical, over-the-counter medications
Treatment in the office
If you have an infection, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic. In some cases, a minor surgical procedure is performed in the office to relieve your pain and remove the nail’s border. You should be able to get back to your regular activities the next day.
If home care doesn’t help or your symptoms worsen, please call Metropolitan Foot and Ankle Specialists or book an appointment online.