Do you trim your toenails very short? When you trim your toenails, do you taper the corners, so the nail follows the same curved shape of the toe? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may inadvertently be setting the stage for an ingrown toenail to develop, as this can encourage your toenail to grow into the skin of your toe. Ingrown toenails can also develop from wearing shoes that are too tight or not long enough.
What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail develops when the edges or corners of your nails grow into the skin that sits alongside the nail. This can happen with any nail on your foot, but it’s most commonly a problem with the big toe.
What causes ingrown toenails?
Ingrown toenails can simply be caused by the natural state of your feet – maybe your nail is simply too large for your toe, and it has nowhere else to grow. Ingrown toenails can also develop from an injury like stubbing your toe or having it stepped on. However, most ingrown toenails develop from improper grooming or wearing shoes that don’t fit properly.
How do I know if I have an ingrown toenail?
The first signs of an ingrown toenail are often discomfort. The corner of the toe will likely feel hard, swollen, and tender. Eventually it might get red and extremely sore, causing pain when it bumps against the side of your shoe, and, if an infection develops, you’ll often see a small amount of pus coming from the area.
Treating an ingrown toenail
Ingrown toenails can often be treated at home, but in some cases, complications can develop that mean it’s time to see a professional. People with diabetes or other conditions that impact their circulation are more likely to develop complications with their ingrown toenail, so, if you are in that category, it’s important to seek medical help right away.
Here’s how to treat an ingrown toenail at home:
• Soak the toe in warm water 3-4 times daily
• When it’s not soaking, make sure the toe is kept dry
• Wear loose, comfortable shoes with a lot of room for your toes
• If it gets very uncomfortable, you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for relief
• If it gets worse, or doesn’t start to get better in 2-3 days, call a footcare expert
When you need help
If you develop a lot of inflammation, swelling, pain and discharge, it’s likely that the area around your toenail has become infected, and it’s time to call your family doctor. They can treat the infection with oral antibiotics, and they may also need to remove part or all the toenail or underlying nail bed.
If you have questions about the health of your toes or would like to have your feet examined, call the team at Aldershot Foot Care today. We’ll set up a time to assess your situation and develop a foot care routine that works with your specific situation.