To put it bluntly, they hurt! An ingrown toenail occurs when instead of growing straight, the nail edges dig into the soft flesh at the corners or sides of the toes. Although any toe can get an ingrown nail, they most commonly affect the big toe. Ingrown toenails do not usually affect children and they are more common in men than women. Ingrown toenails are characterized by pain, redness and inflammation. If the toenail is not treated, it can become infected and in some cases the infection may spread to the bone.
There are several possible causes of ingrown toenails, they are:
- Tight shoes that crowd the toes together and apply pressure
- Incorrectly trimmed toenails
- Injury or repetitive trauma to the toe area
- Fungal infections that cause nails to widen and thicken
You may be more susceptible to ingrown toenails if someone else in your family is bothered by them. Or your nails may just naturally curve more, allowing them to dig into the skin.
In most cases, ingrown toenails can be treated at home, but if the symptoms have not improved within a few days, you should seek medical help. Home treatment involves a warm foot soak a couple of times per day. This helps with the pain and swelling. After the soak when the skin is still soft, use an orange stick or sterilized instrument to gently raise the nail out of the skin. You can also apply a topical healing ointment and bandage. Make sure to wear sandals or shoes with plenty of room for the toes to wriggle.
Ingrown toenails are a quick fix for your podiatrist. Dr. Vargas can remove the ingrown portion of the nail and make you a lot more comfortable. In more severe instances if the toenail continues to be problematic, it may have to be removed. As with all foot ailments, if you have diabetes, go to your doctor for treatment. Your feet are more at risk to develop infection and more complex problems due to lessened sensation. If you think you have an ingrown toenail and you tried home treatment and it is not better, call Dr. Vargas at (281) 313-0090 in Sugarland or (281) 342-8700 in Richmond/Rosenberg. He can make quick work of it hand have you back on your feet.