Ingrown toenails are a painful condition in which the edges or corners of the toenail curve and pierce into the surrounding skin, thereby causing pain, redness, and swelling. Ingrown toenails commonly affect the big toe (either or both sides thereof). However, if you have a genetic predisposition to the condition, they can also develop on multiple toes at once.
Ingrown toenails have several possible causes and predisposing factors. Apart from genetics, ingrown toenails can occur due to blunt force trauma to the toe, wearing poorly fitting shoes, poor peripheral circulation, having unusually curved toenails, among others.
If you’re one of those people who have the tendency to develop ingrown toenails, you know how they can be annoying and painful. Nonetheless, there are effective ways to manage them—and even prevent them from growing back. Let’s learn what these are and when you should see a doctor for them:
How to Manage Your Ingrown Toenails
For mild cases of ingrown toenails, self-care strategies, such as the ones listed below, can help:
- Observing good foot hygiene
- Cutting your toenails straight across
- Soaking your foot in warm, soapy water for 15 to 20 minutes, up to 4 times daily
- Applying topical antibiotics to prevent or treat infection
- Using clean, sharp nail clippers
- Wearing properly fitting shoes and socks (neither too loose nor too tight, especially in the toe boxes)
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers (you can take Advil to relieve both pain and swelling)
Seeing a Podiatrist for Your Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails may be a minor problem for many people, but for those with diabetes, compromised immune system, or any medical condition that causes poor blood circulation, they may cause serious complications. In such cases, you should consider seeing a podiatrist —a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and injuries that affect the foot and ankle.
In cases when the pain and swelling associated with an ingrown toenail aren’t alleviated by basic remedies or when the problem has become chronic, your podiatrist may recommend any of the following treatment modalities:
- Nail splinting technique– a noninvasive procedure in which your podiatrist will lift the edge of your nail to insert a splint or other material in between
- Partial or complete nail avulsion– a minor surgical procedure to partially or fully remove the toenail. Your podiatrist will use a local anesthetic to remove the nailbed, the nail’s border, and/or a portion of the middle growth plate. Your podiatrist will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics after the surgery.
- Matricectomy– a procedure in which the nail matrix or the cells at the base of your nail are destroyed to prevent the nail from growing any further.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment in South Texas
At The Podiatry Group of South Texas, our board-certified, highly experienced podiatrists offer innovative, highly effective nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for the full range of foot and ankle conditions and injuries, such as ingrown toenails, foot trauma and fractures, diabetic foot problems, and bunions.
To schedule a consultation with one of our podiatrists, contact us at (210) 227-8700. We have 14 conveniently located offices, 8 of which are in the greater San Antonio area.