Treating Ingrown Toenails at Home
Ingrown toenails can be painful and uncomfortable, but in many cases, they can be treated at home. Here are some steps you can take to ease the pain and promote healing:
Soak your foot in warm water and Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a day. This will help reduce swelling and soften the skin around the nail.
Gently massage the skin around the affected nail to help reduce inflammation.
Use a clean, sharp pair of tweezers to gently lift the edge of the ingrown nail and insert a small piece of cotton or dental floss underneath to help the nail grow above the skin.
Apply an antiseptic ointment and cover the toe with a bandage to protect it from further irritation.
Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed to manage pain.
It’s important to monitor the ingrown toenail for signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, or drainage. If the condition doesn’t improve within a few days, or if you develop signs of infection, seek medical attention from a podiatrist or other healthcare provider.
When to Seek Professional Treatment
While many ingrown toenails can be treated at home, there are situations when it’s important to seek professional treatment. Here are some signs that you should see a podiatrist or other healthcare provider:
The ingrown toenail is causing severe pain, especially when walking or putting pressure on the affected toe.
There are signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, swelling, or drainage from the affected toe.
You have diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation, which can increase the risk of complications from an ingrown toenail.
You have a compromised immune system due to a medical condition or medication.
You have recurrent ingrown toenails or have tried home treatments without success.
A podiatrist can evaluate the severity of your ingrown toenail and recommend the best course of treatment. Depending on the situation, treatment options may include antibiotics, partial nail removal, or complete nail removal. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent the ingrown toenail from recurring.
Surgical Options for Ingrown Toenails
If home treatments and conservative measures don’t relieve the pain and discomfort of an ingrown toenail, surgery may be necessary. Here are some common surgical options for ingrown toenails:
Partial nail avulsion: This is the most common surgical procedure for ingrown toenails. The podiatrist numbs the toe with local anesthesia and removes the edge of the nail that is ingrown. A chemical is then applied to prevent the nail from growing back.
Total nail avulsion: In some cases, the entire nail may need to be removed. This is usually a last resort, and the podiatrist will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with you before recommending it.
Matrixectomy: This procedure involves removing a portion of the nail matrix, the tissue that produces the nail. This prevents the nail from growing back in the affected area.
Laser treatment: Some podiatrists use laser therapy to treat ingrown toenails. The laser destroys the tissue that is causing the ingrown nail, and the affected area is then treated with an antiseptic.
After surgery, you will need to keep the toe clean and dry and follow the podiatrist’s instructions for dressing changes and activity restrictions. Most people are able to return to normal activities within a few days to a few weeks after surgery.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails from Recurring
Ingrown toenails can be a recurring problem, but there are steps you can take to prevent them from coming back. Here are some tips for preventing ingrown toenails:
Trim your toenails straight across and avoid rounding the edges. Use a sharp, clean nail clipper and don’t cut the nails too short.
Wear shoes that fit properly and don’t put pressure on the toes. Avoid tight-fitting shoes or high heels that can push the toes together.
Keep your feet clean and dry, and change your socks daily. Use foot powder to help absorb moisture.
Don’t pick at the skin around the toenails or try to remove ingrown nails yourself. This can increase the risk of infection and make the problem worse.
If you have recurring ingrown toenails, talk to your podiatrist about options for preventing them, such as partial nail removal or matrixectomy.
By taking steps to prevent ingrown toenails, you can reduce the risk of developing this painful condition and avoid the need for surgical intervention in the future.
Understanding Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the nail grows into the skin surrounding the nail, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. They are a common condition that can affect anyone, but certain factors can increase the risk of developing ingrown toenails. Here are some factors that can contribute to ingrown toenails:
Improper nail trimming: Cutting the nails too short or rounding the edges can cause the nails to grow into the skin.
Tight-fitting shoes: Shoes that are too tight or put pressure on the toes can cause the nails to grow into the skin.
Toe injuries: Trauma to the toe, such as stubbing it or dropping something on it, can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
Genetics: Some people may be more prone to ingrown toenails due to inherited nail shape or structure.
Poor foot hygiene: Fungal infections or other foot conditions that cause swelling or inflammation can increase the risk of developing ingrown toenails.
In some cases, ingrown toenails can lead to complications, such as infection or a chronic skin condition. It’s important to seek medical attention if you have signs of infection or if the condition doesn’t improve with home treatments. By understanding the causes and risk factors for ingrown toenails, you can take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place.