Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are painful occurrences that form when the skin of the toe grows over the toenail. This cause can be genetic, such as when the nail beds are deformed, but more often than not is caused by improper footwear or poor toenail trimming. Trauma, like stubbing your toe can also cause the nail to grow improperly as it has been lodged into the skin on the side of the toe. It has been shown that nail growth isn’t exactly the problem. The problem is the skin growing over the nail and the toenail pushing into raw tissue. This condition is extremely painful and can make wearing shoes a hassle or even cause any kind of pressure to be painful. One can tell if you have an ingrown toenail by whether or not there is inflammation, pain, and signs of infection such as pus drainage and discoloration.

If you wear shoes that are too tight or don’t fit properly, an ingrown toenail may occur. The toes bunch together and the nail does not have the room to properly grow and so it grows into the tissue around the toes. If you do not cut your toenails correctly, you may also cause your toenails to become infected in this manner. Cutting your toenails generally require you cut them straight across, rather than at an angle, or peeling them off at the edges. Toenails that are also cut too short are also susceptible to becoming ingrown. Bacterial infections can also factor in as a cause of ingrown toenails. If this is the case, a round of antibiotics might be the answer to the problem. In this case, the toenail will likely heal itself.

Upon treating an ingrown toenail, there are several things that you can do. Soaking your feet in Epsom salts or a betadine solution and then re-clipping the nail can help with the problem. Home remedies often include stuffing cotton between the nail and the surrounding skin, but experts concur that this is not a bright idea as it can cause infection. The idea behind this is to remove pressure from the toe and separate the skin, but doctors do not recommend it. Once you get the nail soft enough and trimmed down, you can apply a topical antibiotic ointment to aid in the healing process. While a certain amount of clipping might need to be done to correct the issue, the idea is not to pick at it. This can definitely cause infections and if you are a diabetic or have another underlying condition where your body is susceptible to infections, see a doctor.

Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t wear tight shoes or cut your nails improperly and your chances of getting one are quite slim. If you can’t help it or seem predisposed to getting one, remember that ingrown toenails can be painful, but still easy to take care of. Wearing shoes that fit or are loose can help with the pain, and soaking the toe in a solution can help with the infection, if there is one. You’re not a surgeon, don’t pretend to be one and start hacking away at the skin around your big toe. Remember that if it’s infected you may want to see a doctor before you make any move and if you don’t know what to do about it or especially if the condition is chronic, see a podiatrist anyway.