At Texas Foot and Ankle Center, we provide comprehensive podiatric services. In doing so, we find that some conditions are more frequently seen than others—such as ingrown toenails.
This particular health issue is one that causes pain and discomfort, can potentially affect individuals of all demographics, and increases risk of infection (which can be especially dangerous for those who have diabetes).
Fortunately, an ingrown toenail can be treated rather easily. Even better, there are steps you can take to lower your odds of having this condition happen in the first place.
How Ingrown Toenails Can Develop
There are several possible causes for a toenail that has become ingrown. These include such factors as trimming toenails too short or rounding them, wearing tight footwear that crowds your nails, and physical injury to the nail from a traumatic incident (dropping a heavy item on your foot, sport injury, etc.).
Sometimes, the root cause of an ingrown nail, especially one that keeps returning, is an unusually-curved nail structure that was genetically-inherited.
Recognizing an Ingrown Toenail
There are a handful of ingrown nail symptoms, including:
- Pain and tenderness along the edges of an ingrown nail
- Redness, swelling, or infection in the area around the affected toenail
- In more severe cases, there may be pus or redness that appears to spread (if you experience either of these, be sure to contact Texas Foot and Ankle Center and schedule the earliest possible appointment with our office)
How to Treat Ingrown Toenails
When an ingrown nail is less severe in nature—and especially if you are not diabetic, and there is no pus or sign of infection—you might want to attempt to treat the issue on your own at home first. This can be accomplished with the following steps:
- Soak the affected foot in warm water three or four times in 15-20 minute sessions during the day to reduce swelling and relieve tenderness.
- After soaking your foot, gently lift the ingrown nail edge and place a clean, fresh bit of waxed dental floss underneath (to encourage the nail to grow over the skin, and not into it).
- Apply antibiotic ointment liberally on the sensitive area, and then cover it with a clean bandage.
- Wear open-toed shoes or sandals (not flip-flops) until the toe feels better.
- Take naproxen, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to relieve the toe pain, but contact us first for dosage recommendations.
When home care does not produce desired results, or you have a toenail that is repeatedly becoming ingrown, it is time to see us for professional treatment.
Depending on the situation, we might need to remove either a part or the entire nail. Typically, we only remove the entire nail in recurrent cases. When we do this, we will use a procedure to prevent the nail from growing back. (If this is the case, we do use anesthesia and it is not as painful as one might think!)
Reduce Your Risk for Ingrown Nails
Whereas not all cases of ingrown toenails are preventable (especially when genetics and accidents are two potential causes!), there are some measures you can take to at least reduce your risk. These include doing things like:
- Wearing shoes that fit correctly. Footwear should have enough room in the toe box area for your toes to wiggle freely, along with about a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe.
- Trimming your toenails the right way. Make sure your nails are not too short and do not round them off. A good guideline is to clip them straight across and even with the edge of the toes.
- Protecting your feet. Sure, it is basically impossible to avoid any potential accident—if this were possible, there wouldn’t be accidents, right?—but you can protect your feet in situations where the accident risk tends to be higher. For example, if you work at a job where you often move heavy items, protect your feet with safety shoes or steel-toe work boots. And when you move heavy objects at home, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or loved one to help.
Professional Ingrown Toenail Treatment
You might be able to take care of an ingrown toenail on your own and in the comfort of your own home, but there are times when professional treatment is necessary—such as when severe pain is present or a nail repeatedly becomes ingrown. If this is the case, contact Texas Foot and Ankle Center and let us provide the care you need.
Doctor's Professional Building 1
1151 N. Buckner Boulevard, Suite 201
Dallas, TX 75218
Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 5:00PM
Closed for Lunch
12:00PM - 1:00PM