When you don’t take care of problems when they’re small, they tend to not stay so small.
Consider car maintenance. Nobody wants to spend 30 bucks on an oil change every three months or so, but it’s a lot better than having a car that needs thousands of dollars’ worth in repairs before it’ll run again.
And what if you have a small ceiling leak in your home or apartment? Placing a bucket underneath might be acceptable for a day or two, but the longer you let the leak continue the more extensive (and expensive) the damage is going to be. The entire house may become unsafe!
Well, the same can be true of your ingrown toenail. Ignore at your own peril!
The Progression of an Ingrown Toenail
Let’s start by briefly describing the condition itself.
Simply put, an ingrown toenail is the result of an edge, corner, or side of one of your toenails (usually, but not always, on the big toe) growing into the skin.
In the early stages of an ingrown toenail, you might only experience mild redness, pain or tenderness, particularly when you put on your shoes or accidentally bump your toe. It’s unpleasant, but usually tolerable.
However, it may not stay that way for long.
For many people who do not seek treatment, the pain and swelling continues to get more severe, and may even start spreading across the toe. The pain could reach a point where just walking or putting on shoes becomes nearly unbearable.
Ultimately, the most serious problem is that your toe could very likely get infected. Obvious signs of infection include significant redness and pus drainage. That’s no fun for anybody, but it’s especially risky for those who have compromised immune systems—including diabetics, young children, and seniors.
For diabetes in particular, an infected ingrown toenail could spread and become very hard to contain. If a bad infection isn’t responding to antibiotics, an amputation may be the only choice you have left.
So as you can see, it’s much better to not take the risk at all, and seek help right away when you notice an ingrown toenail.
Be Cautious About Home Remedies
So you know you need to do something. The question is, “what?”
If you search online, you will probably find some suggestions for home treatments for ingrown toenails, such as foot soaks or creative use of dental floss or cotton.
We want to give you a word of caution about these, however.
For some people, they can work. However, even if you are otherwise healthy, they still may not work, and even if they do they will take at least a few days to provide much relief. In the meantime, the longer you go before the ingrown toenail fully heals, the greater your risk of infection.
If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or poor immune system health, never attempt to treat an ingrown toenail on your own. Call us right away so we can handle it quickly and safely.
If you do not have any of these health problems, we would still recommend you come see us sooner rather than later. Just like getting an oil change on schedule or fixing a ceiling leak promptly, it’ll give you the best chance to avoid nasty symptoms and keep everything working the way it should.
How We Can Help
Ingrown toenails can usually be evaluated and fixed in a single appointment. We’ll have you taken care of and out the door, and you can usually go back to most of your normal activities right away, or at least within 24 hours.
The first thing we’ll do is evaluate you for an infection. Hopefully you saw us early enough, so this won’t be an issue.
Next, we’ll gently cut away the ingrown portion of the nail and remove it. This is all performed under local anesthesia, so you should feel no pain at all.
Then, we’ll remove a small portion of the nail matrix which corresponds to the ingrown edge that we removed. This means that the ingrown part of the nail cannot grow back. For many patients who have struggled with recurring ingrown toenails their entire lives, this is a massive relief.
Finally, we’ll bandage you up, provide you with any follow-up instructions you may need, and send you on your way. You should be able to walk, work, go to school, and do other normal activities again right away—the pain relief is that quick and effective! Certain activities, such as swimming or competitive sports, might need to be placed on hold for a week or two, but we’ll be sure to let you know what you can expect.
We think the choice here is a no-brainer. Why delay getting treatment—and risk increased pain and potentially dangerous infection—when you can get your ingrown toenail taken care of quickly and easily in a single appointment at our office? Taking care of it now really is the best choice in the short, medium, and long term.
Are You Living With Pain Due To Ingrown Toenails? Contact Our El Paso Foot Doctor Today.
If you're experiencing pain due to ingrown toenails you should speak with an experienced podiatrist as soon as possible. Please contact us online to schedule your appoinment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.