Have you ever had pain at the corner or edge of your big toe, accompanied by redness and swelling? If that’s the case, you probably had an ingrown toenail. They can be very painful and annoying and although any toenail can become ingrown, it is usually the big toe. When an ingrown nail first begins, the area may feel hard and tender. Redness, swelling and possibly infection can follow. This is because instead of growing straight, something has caused the nail to grow into the skin on the sides or corners of the toe. Ingrown toenails are common, most notably in teenagers.
There are a number of factors that can cause ingrown toenails. In some instances the nail is simply too big for the toe, but other causes are:
- Injury to the toe
- Improper nail trimming, nails being cut too short or curved at the corners
- Shoes that crowd the toes because they are too tight or too short
Ingrown toenails should be treated immediately. As long as infection has not had time to develop, home care can usually avoid further medical treatment. Recommended treatment methods include:
- Warm foot soak three or four times daily
- Keep the area dry the rest of the time
- Over-the-counter pain predication if needed
- Wear shoes that are roomy in the toe area, or wear sandals until the condition clears up
- Gently lift the embedded nail away from the skin
- If condition does not improve within three days, call your doctor.
In serious cases, your doctor may need to surgically remove all or part of the offending nail and treat you with antibiotics. If the entire nail is removed, the chance is increased that your nail will grow back deformed.
Prevention is the best medicine. Wear shoes that provide enough room for your toes. Protect your feet from injury. Trim nails when necessary, making a straight cut as opposed to curving at the corners. If you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail, please see your doctor right away. Your feet may be at greater risk due to loss of sensation, and infection could develop quickly.
If you have an ingrown toenail that you cannot treat at home, or if the condition has persisted for more than three days, call Dr. Vargas at Foot and Ankle Associates. He has offices in Sugarland (281) 313-0090 and Richmond/Rosenberg (281) 342-8700 to serve you.