Ingrown nails are a common nail impairment where the corner of the toenail curves and digs into the soft tissue of the nail groove, causing redness, irritation or swelling. If the toenail breaks the skin, bacteria may enter, causing an infection. The condition typically affects the big toe; however, other toes can also be affected. Studies have shown that nearly 18% of U.S. adults aged 21 or older experience ingrown toenails.
Common causes of ingrown toenails
An imbalance between the enlargement of the edge of nail skin and the size of the nail usually causes ingrown toenails. The condition is further exacerbated by improperly trimmed nails, poorly fitting footwear that causes crowding of toes or a hereditary condition. Excessive external pressure from nail picking and aggressive pedicures may also be a cause.
Ingrown toenails are usually diagnosed in adolescents and athletes because they perspire more often, causing the nail and skin to become soft. The thin nail then eventually splits, piercing the softened skin.
Treating ingrown toe nails
You may be able to deal with an ingrown toenail at home if you don’t have any circulatory disorder like peripheral vascular disease or diabetes, and you don’t see any signs of infection.
Soaking the feet in warm water several times a day can help relieve discomfort. Moreover, avoid wearing restrictive footwear and keep the nail protected. You can also apply an antibiotic cream and bandage the toe to further avoid it from getting infected.
When to see a podiatrist
It’s important to recognize when you need to pull the plug on home care and get treated by a podiatrist. You need to seek professional medical attention for your ingrown toenail when:
- You don’t see any improvement after 2–3 days of home treatments
- You notice signs of infection, such as drainage or excessive redness
- The pain in your ingrown toenail becomes significantly worse
- You’re diabetic or have some kind of neuropathy in your feet
The good news is that a podiatrist can bring near-instant relief with a quick and relatively painless procedure. They start by numbing your toe and then use surgical scissors to remove the ingrown part of your toenail.
For permanent prevention of an ingrown toenail, your podiatrist may remove a portion of the nail matrix, ensuring the nail doesn’t curve down and pierce into your skin in the future.
When you know that it’s finally time to visit a podiatrist for your ingrown toenail, get in touch with the certified podiatric physicians at The Foot & Ankle Institute of Miami Beach.
Apart from treating ingrown nails, their foot surgeons treat fungal infections, bunions, heel pain, warts, and a range of painful foot and ankle deformities that may arise from lower spine, knees or hips.
Their team of experts also help injured athletes get back on their feet with innovative sports medicine services including physical therapy, plantar fasciitis treatment and cell-based therapy.
Contact them today to book an appointment!