What Should be Done about an Ingrown Toenail?
Like the fingernails, the toenails tend to grow out over the skin around the tip of the nail. Sometimes, a nail may grow inward. When this occurs, the surrounding flesh may become inflamed and tender. In most cases, an ingrown toenail is a temporary, fixable problem. Here, we discuss why some people get ingrown toenails, what they might do to reduce the chances of suffering this uncomfortable problem again, and what a doctor may do to help.
Why do Ingrown Toenails Occur?
There are several reasons a toenail may grow into the surrounding flesh rather than over it. This problem seems to occur more often when a toenail is curved or thick. The growth pattern of a toenail may also be affected by trauma to the toe, such as stubbing it or dropping an object on the foot. Sometimes, it is the grooming of the toenails that is the problem. It is important to avoid trimming toenails too short or rounding the corners of nails. Experts also warn against wearing shoes that are too tight against the toes.
Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail
An ingrown toenail affects the skin around it because it is poking or growing into it. Depending on the severity of inward growth, the ingrown toenail may show visible signs of abnormality, such as skin over the edges of the toenail. Usually, though, people recognize that they have a problem when the toe becomes tender. An ingrown toenail may cause redness and swelling around the toenail, as well. Usually, this problem occurs on the big toe but could affect any.
How Are Ingrown Toenails Treated?
You may be able to resolve the symptoms of an ingrown toenail with home remedies. For example, you may:
- Soak your feet in Epsom salt and warm water. This can soften the skin and reduce inflammation.
- Free the nail. Working around an ingrown toenail should be done very carefully. You may free the nail from skin overgrowth by wetting a cotton ball with olive oil and gently pushing the skin back.
- Encourage normal growth. Some say that creating a nick at the center of the tip of an ingrown toenail encourages straighter growth. This is also a strategy that should be performed carefully.
- Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to discourage infection.
- Wear open-toed shoes as much as possible to reduce the pressure on the affected toe.
If home remedies do not resolve the pain and inflammation of an ingrown toenail or signs of infection are present, contact our office. A foot specialist can examine the toenail, treat infection, and develop a treatment plan to reduce future abnormal growth. To schedule a visit to our Passaic, NJ foot and ankle center, call 973.473.6665.