An ingrown toenail is a common and painful condition of the toes. It occurs when one or both sides of the nail break grow into the skin of the toe, rather than over it. As a result, the irritated skin becomes painful, red and swollen. Fortunately, when detected early, an ingrown toenail can generally be treated effectively from home. But when left untreated, an ingrown toenail is prone to infection, as bacteria can enter your body via the penetrated skin. Professional treatment from your podiatrist is necessary to treat the infection.
Self-Care for Ingrown Toenails
Regardless of the cause, understanding how to care for an ingrown toenail can go a long way to help prevent painful infections. In its earliest stage, an ingrown toenail can generally be cared for and successfully treated from home. For non-infected nails:
- Soak your foot in warm water several times a day to relieve swelling and soreness.
- Wash and dry your foot to keep the affected area clean.
- Wear comfortable footwear with a wide toe box, or sandals when weather permits.
- Avoid cutting the nail, as this can make the condition worse.
- Over-the-counter medications may temporarily ease the pain, though they don’t heal the underlying problem.
Conservative treatments won’t always be successful. When excessive swelling, pain or discharge is present, the toenail is most likely infected and should be treated by your podiatrist. If you have diabetes or nerve damage, avoid home treatment and see your podiatrist for safe and professional care.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails is Easy
With a few simple precautions, you can easily prevent ingrown toenails.
- Wear properly fitting shoes and socks that allow for adequate toe room.
- Trim your toenails straight across, and avoid cutting them too short.
- Keep your feet clean and dry, as this prevents bacteria formation.
Ingrown toenails are a very common condition of the toes. The key to avoiding ingrown toenails is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Your podiatrist can administer treatment, such as an oral antibiotic or a minor surgical procedure, to stop the pain and remove the infection. Call today to schedule an appointment!