If you're suffering from a painful toe, you might have an ingrown toenail. Other symptoms of this very common problem include swelling, redness and irritation. You might have an ingrown toenail if you can see and feel an edge or corner of your toenail growing into your skin -- rather than over the nail bed as nails normally do. You might be able to recognize and treat ingrown toenails on your own, especially if you've had one before. Home care involves soaking the affected foot in warm water, using antibiotic cream, wearing extra comfortable shoes, and taking an over-the-counter medicine such as Tylenol. However, your painful toe could be due to something else so you should see a New Hampshire podiatrist if you're not sure. Even a simple ingrown toenail can turn into something worse.
Ingrown Toenails can Become Serious
If you've been self-treating an ingrown toenail and it doesn't get better after a few days or If you notice increasing warmth, redness, tenderness or oozing pus, it's time to see a podiatrist. These are serious signs that you might have an infection. Even a mild infection can affect deeper skin tissue and develop into a bone infection if left untreated. Other complications of a stubborn ingrown toenail include ugly scars on your toes and nail borders, and/or thick, deformed fungal nails.
How to Avoid Getting an Ingrown Toenail
Of course, the best possible "treatment" for an ingrown toenail is to avoid getting one in the first place. There's no way you can completely avoid foot problems. But there are a few things you can do to prevent ingrown toenails. These simple habits are good for your health in general.
Keep Your Feet Clean
You know you should wash your feet when you bathe, but are you really getting your feet clean and keeping them clean? Wash your feet with soap and warm water daily -- at least. Clean between your toes and dry your feet completely after bathing or showering. Don't forget to scrub under your toenails. If they don't come clean in the bath, clean your toenails with disinfected tools that are specifically designed for this purpose.
Keep Your Toenails Trimmed
Don't let your toenails get too long -- or too short. They should be clipped regularly but not too far down the nail bed. Leave your toenails long enough to grow over your skin. Trim or clip them straight across, not in a curved fashion. If you can't trim your own toenails, get a pedicure. It's worth it to prevent painful ingrown toenails and other foot problems.
Wear the Right Socks and Shoes
Wear footwear that is clean, comfortable and fits well. Your toes should have plenty of wiggle room and not press against your shoes. If you work in an industry or place where your feet could get hurt, make sure your shoes are made of a protective material. Your socks should always be clean and dry; damp or wet footwear can cause fungus that can lead to improper growth patterns, including ingrown toenails. Wet or sweaty socks are also -- well, let's face it -- stinky!
Take Care of Your Feet
This sounds like basic common sense, right? But it truly is important to take good care of your feet. You might be used to just letting toenails that are growing improperly get better on their own. You might be ignoring bruised or painful toes. But remember, if you neglect something small it could turn into something big -- and serious. An ingrown toenail can become infected, need to be removed, or even require surgery. Taking care of your health in general means taking care of your feet, too.
Seek Help for Painful Toes
If your toe hurts, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get help from a qualified New Hampshire podiatrist. At Nagy Footcare, we can help you with an ingrown and/or infected toenail. Treatment usually involves prescription-strength antibiotics, some clean cotton or a special splint carefully placed under your nail, or removal of part or all of the affected toenail. If you need ingrown toenail surgery, we can perform the procedure and have you walking in about 15 minutes.
If you have a painful toe or painful feet, contact us today; we want to help you! At Nagy Footcare, our best day is when you wake up with no foot pain.