Posts for tag: Ingrown Toenails
An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that occurs when the corner of a toenail, usually the big toe, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, this can cause pain and swelling in the affected area. If you are a healthy individual you can often treat the ingrown toenail with simple at-home care; however, patients with diabetes, nerve damage in the feet or signs of a foot infection should always see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
There are several factors that could increase your risk for developing an ingrown toenail. These include:
- Heredity: if your family has a history of ingrown toenails you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Poorly fitted shoes: shoes that are too tight and cramp up the toes can also cause painful ingrown toenails, particularly in teens whose feet are still growing rapidly
- Improper nail trimming: if you cut your nails too short or if you cut them at an angle rather than cutting them straight across you could be leaving yourself prone to an ingrown toenail
- Injury to the toe: jamming or stubbing the toe can also increase the risk of an ingrown toenail (this is most common in athletes)
Treating an Ingrown Toenail
If there are no signs of an infection (e.g. foul odor; skin that’s hot to the touch) and you are otherwise healthy then you can probably treat the ingrown toenail all by yourself from the comfort of your home. Take frequent Epsom salt soaks and apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. Again, if there is no infection you can soak nails for several minutes so that they soften, and then gently clip away the affected area of the nail.
If you are experiencing signs of an infected ingrown toenail or if you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail it’s important that you seek a podiatrist’s care right away. A podiatrist can treat the infection while also removing part of or the entire nail so that it grows in properly.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
While there are certain factors such as heredity that cannot be helped, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce your risk for ingrown toenails. For one, always make sure that you wear properly fitted shoes that do not put pressure on the toes.
Secondly and most importantly, you need to know how to properly trim your toenails. Nails should be level with the tips of your toes. If nails are cut too short or if you trim your nails so they are curved at the edges rather than straight then an ingrown toenail is more likely to develop as the nail grows out.
Athletes should also make sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear for their chosen sport. Not all tennis shoes are created equally so if you have any questions about the footwear that you should wear, don’t hesitate to speak with your foot doctor.
Are you struggling with an ingrown toenail? At Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic in Kalispell, MT, Dr. Esther Sue Barnes treats ingrown toenails, as well as a wide variety of other podiatric health conditions. Read below to learn how she can help that toe of yours feel better and look normal once again!
Symptoms of ingrown toenails
Typically occurring on the big toe, an ingrown toenail invades the skin surrounding the nail. Symptoms include:
- Pus (if infected)
- Trouble walking
- Changes in the shape of the nail
Causes of ingrown toenails
How do ingrown toenails happen? Experts at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons say that ingrown toenails, also called onychocryptosis, stem from a variety of factors, including:
- Heredity (some toenails are simply too large for the size of the big toes)
- Pressure from shoes that are shaped incorrectly or are too tight
- Mechanical trauma (stubbing the toe or dropping something heavy on it)
- Clipping the corners of the toenail at an angle instead of straight across
This last factor causes most cases of ingrown toenails which Dr. Barnes sees in her Kalispell clinic. So, she cautions all her patients to trim their nails correctly--straight across the toe--with a clean, sharp clippers.
Treating ingrown toenails
Simple, at-home remedies sometimes take care of ingrown toenails which are just starting to show symptoms. Soak your foot three to four times a day in warm water to soothe soreness and soften the skin around the nail. Gently lift the nail out of the skin using dental floss. Change the floss every day. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain.
More advanced cases of onychomycosis may need in-office surgery at Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic. During this procedure, Dr. Barnes removes the affected side of the toenail from top to bottom (under locally-injected anesthetic, of course). This procedure is called partial nail avulsion and allows the nail to grow back straight and not embedded into the skin around the nail. Regrowth takes a few months.
Ingrown toenails can be very sore, and have the possibility to disrupt your day-to-day activities. People with diabetes should additionally be careful, as onychomycosis is especially dangerous for those with the condition. If you need treatment, please call Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic's Kalispell office for an appointment with Dr. Barnes. Phone (406) 755-2818 today!
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel pain
- Ankle sprains and fractures
- Foot fractures
- Sports-related injuries
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Corns and calluses
- Diabetic foot care
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Heel spurs
Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, can be annoying and painful. This common condition occurs when the surrounding skin on one or both sides of the nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself penetrates the skin. As the nail digs into the skin, redness, swelling, and pain are often the result.
People develop ingrown toenails for various reasons. Poor nail-trimming is the most common cause, as this encourages the skin to fold over the nail. Other causes include trauma, such as stubbing a toe, or skin conditions, such as fungal infections or nails that are simply too large. In some cases, the condition may even be inherited. Poor fitting shoes generally aggravate the condition, making it worse.
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:
- Wearing well-fitted shoes and socks
- Protecting feet from trauma when possible
- Trimming toenails straight across and avoiding repeated trimming of the nail borders
- Keeping feet clean and dry to prevent infection
If an infection is not suspected of your ingrown, it can usually be safely treated from home by soaking your foot in warm water. Avoid "bathroom surgery" and repeated cutting of the nail as this will only make the condition worse.
When attempts to reduce your symptoms from home fail, or when pain, inflammation, swelling or discharge accompany your ingrown, the toenail is most likely infected and should be treated by a podiatrist at our office. People with diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation should always seek care immediately if an ingrown nail is detected, regardless of the severity.
A podiatrist can examine the affected toe and determine the best treatment for your condition. For an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Other treatments may involve trimming or removing the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure.
Ingrown toenails may be annoying, but rest assured that they can easily be prevented and treated with the help of your podiatrist. If you think you have an ingrown toenail, visit our practice for quick and easy treatment.
UPDATE 3/23/20: In attempt to maintain the safety of our patients, employees, and the community, the office is physically closed, other than for the care of patients with urgent concerns / emergenices only. Attempts will be made to return phone calls Monday through Thursday from 9AM to 1PM. Please use the "Request an Appointment" resource above to request an appointment. If an established patient, we encourage you to log into the Patient Portal and send a message to Dr. Barnes or the office with any questions or concerns. Thank you.