Frequently Asked Questions About Ingrown Toenails and Treatment

Posted by Dr. Brian Nagy on September 3, 2017

FAQ funny cubesIf you are suffering from toe or foot pain, you might have an ingrown toenail. This is a fairly common problem especially among runners, those who suffer from diabetes and in certain families who are naturally prone to ingrown toenails. There are ways you can relieve some of the pain of an ingrown nail, but they are temporary measures. Left untreated, ingrown toenails can lead to serious complications so it is always advisable to see your New Hampshire podiatrist if you have painful toes or feet.

What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?

You usually see them on a big toe but any toe can be affected. You will know you have an ingrown toenail because you will be able to see your nail growing incorrectly. Instead of growing straight up over your toe, the nail will dig into the flesh on one or the other side of your toe. Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Pus

What causes ingrown nails?

  • Improper trimming. If you cut your nails too short or too rounded, you're putting yourself at risk of an ingrown nail.
  • Poorly fitting shoes. Shoes with pointed toes and high heels put too much pressure on your toes and cause them to compress. This leaves your toenails nowhere to go except into the flesh of your foot.
  • Trauma such as dropping something on your toe or repeated pressure due to running. 
  • Misalignment of your foot can lead to ingrown nails and other foot problems.
  • Grandpa! More literally, heredity - if your relatives have ingrown toenails, you're more likely to get them yourself. 

What happens if you ignore an ingrown toenail?

Left untreated, ingrown toenails can become infected. A fungal infection can be very painful and requires antibiotics to get rid of it. Your untreated ingrown toenail can even lead to a bone infection. An untreated infection can be especially serious for patients with diabetes and lead to gangrene.

Can you treat ingrown toenails on your own?

If you have an ingrown nail you should wear shoes with enough toe room, and soak your foot in warm water and Epsom salts at least once daily for comfort. You can also apply a soothing ointment and fresh bandage each day. However, it is best to visit your trusted New Hampshire podiatrist to get a proper diagnosis. Your podiatrist will know whether you need an antibiotic or any special procedures. 

Is is ok to use dental floss on an ingrown toenail?

You may have heard that you can get rid of an ingrown nail simply by lifting it off the nail bed with a piece of dental floss. However, this can be quite painful and even cause infection. It is more advisable to keep your foot comfortable by soaking and disinfecting it, and wearing roomy shoes until you can get an appointment with your podiatrist. 

How does your podiatrist treat ingrown toenails?

After proper diagnosis, your podiatrist may treat your ingrown toenail very conservatively or with a minimally invasive procedure. In many if not most cases, treatment involves just a 15-minute fix. If necessary, your podiatrist will anesthetize the area, cut the part of your nail that is growing or digging into your flesh, and prescribe antibiotics or ointment to treat or prevent infection.

Can ingrown toenails be prevented?

As mentioned earlier, ingrown toenails can be hereditary in which case you might find yourself getting them no matter what you do. However, there are a few things you can do to lower your risk of getting an ingrown nail. 

  • Trim your nails often - and correctly. Trim your toenails straight across with a proper toenail trimmer.
  • Wear proper footwear. That means staying away from pointy-toed high heels and overly-tight hosiery. Your toes need enough room to wiggle comfortably in your socks and shoes.
  • See your New Hampshire podiatrist. If you experience pain, swelling, or any unusual symptoms in your feet or toes, seek help from a qualified, experienced podiatrist. 

Due to the potential complications involved, you should visit the friendly, compassionate professionals at Nagy Footcare for proper diagnosis and treatment of ingrown toenails.

At Nagy Footcare, we will find a way to move you toward freedom from foot and toe pain. We will listen to you and give you the attention you deserve. We will talk with you and make sure you understand your treatment plan. We will offer you modern treatment and techniques to relieve your pain.

Do you think you have an ingrown toenail? Contact us today and let us help you. At Nagy Footcare, our best day is when you wake up with no foot pain.

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Topics: Ingrown Toenails

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