Toenails were probably more functionally useful for our ancestors than they are in modern life, but the fact of the matter is that we still have them and sometimes they lead to problems. A prime example of this is when they become ingrown.
Ingrown toenails is a condition that can cause discomfort, pain, and even increased infection risk. This is a problem virtually anyone who has toenails could develop at some point – although, there are factors that make it more likely for certain people.
If you are having pain and difficulty on account of an ingrown toenail—and especially if you are diabetic—and need professional assistance, Dr. Bruce Scudday is here to help you.
Recognizing an Ingrown Toenail
An ingrown toenail condition is marked by the side or corner of a nail growing into the soft flesh that surrounds it. This can lead to such symptoms as pain, swelling, redness, and even a potential infection. Whereas this condition can technically happen to any of the toes, it is most likely to be experienced by the big toe.
In the event you notice pus or redness that spreads (signs of an infection), or are having severe pain in the area, it is important to make an appointment with our office for the professional treatment you need.
Why Nails Become Ingrown
There are several common causes for nails that become ingrown, including:
- Inherited structure – Nails that are unusually curved are more likely to become ingrown than those featuring a more typical shape.
- Physical trauma – Dropping something heavy onto your foot increases your risk of developing this condition.
- Improper nail trimming – Patients who trim their nails too short or round them off have a greater rate of ingrown toenail occurrence than do those who clip them straight and keep the nails even with the edge of their toes.
- Ill-fitting footwear – Shoes that fit poorly create or contribute to a host of issues, including this one. Footwear that is too tight crowd the toes together, which makes it more likely that ingrowing will take place.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment
With regards to ingrown toenail treatment, it is important to keep this in mind – if you are diabetic, do not attempt to address the problem on your own! Instead, contact our office and have Dr. Scudday take care of it for you.
As long as you do not have diabetes, you may want to try taking care of a mild ingrown toenail—one that is not infected and/or causing severe pain—on your own first. In doing so, you will essentially be trying to encourage the nail to grow in a more normal fashion by using the following steps:
- Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes in warm water to soften the nail tissue.
- This will relieve tenderness and can reduce swelling.
- After the soaking, place fresh bits of waxed dental floss or cotton under the edge that has become ingrown (to prevent it from growing back into the skin).
- Use antibiotic cream or ointment on the tender area and then properly bandage the affected toe.
After taking these steps, you may need to use over-the-counter pain medication. For professional recommendations regarding type and dosage, give our El Paso office a call.
If you do not feel comfortable attempting to handle the situation on your own, or have tried and still are experiencing pain or difficulty, we will be happy to help.
Our initial approach may be to provide services to lift the nail, but this isn’t always enough to remedy the situation. When you need additional care, we may need to remove either a portion of the toenail or the entire nail itself.
Partial nail removal is beneficial for severe ingrown nails that have caused pain, pus, and/or redness. In this instance, we will remove the ingrown portion of your toenail after numbing the toe with an anesthetic. If the issue returns repeatedly, we will likely need to move onto the final stage of treatment – complete removal.
In a complete removal, we will take measures to ensure that the nail doesn’t grow back. This can be achieved by laser, chemical, or other methods and is reserved for cases that simply cannot be treated effectively in any other manner.
Reduce Your Ingrown Toenail Risk
Prevention is much better than having to treat a condition, especially when the steps are relatively easy and straightforward. For ingrown nails, this entails:
- Proper nail trimming – Always clip your nails straight across, instead of rounding them off, and keep them even with the edge of the toes.
- Footwear that fits – When buying shoes for yourself or loved ones, make sure they are not tight in the front and have enough room that toes can wiggle freely.
- Protect your feet – If your job requires frequently moving heavy items, invest in a pair of safety shoes or steel-tipped work boots.
Professional Ingrown Toenail Care
If you require professional care for a problem case of ingrown toenails, give the office of Bruce Scudday, DPM a call at (915) 533-5151. You can also use our online form to schedule your appointment with the friendly staff here at our El Paso office.