Ingrown toenails, while relatively minor, can become severe if left untreated. They become quite painful and often prevent you from exercising, wearing specific shoes or simply doing some of the things you enjoy. Thankfully, they can be treated rather easily upon initial onset so it’s important to act quickly.
There are a lot of varying notions of exactly what constitutes an ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail occurs when a nail grows downward into the skin, usually along the sides of the toe. As it pushes into the skin, whether on one side or both, you’ll notice some redness, maybe swelling and also pain. The toe may also feel warm to the touch.
Larger problems occur when the nail is allowed to break the skin, as an infection can begin. Oftentimes an infection results in symptoms like fluid drainage and a bad odor. Again, it is important to act quickly at the onset of an ingrown toenail.
What Causes an Ingrown Toenail?
The most common cause of an ingrown toenail is improper trimming. Poor trimming habits such as infrequency, cutting the nail to an improper angle or cutting it too short are all common culprits. Cutting a toenail too short should especially be avoided as it prompts the skin along the wide sides of your toe to grow over the nail. As the nail grows, it drives deeper into that section of the skin.
The propensity for ingrown toenails can be inherited though, too. Various types of activity that apply consistent weighted pressure to the toes, such as kicking, dancing and running are also known to create ingrown toenails.
Shoes that fit improperly can cause this condition as well. In this case, however, it is not just tight-fitting shoes. Loose shoes that cause your foot to slide and impact the inside of your footwear cause sudden and repeat pressure to the toenails, creating the ideal condition for the toenail to curve or push into the skin.
Treatment and Home Care
Most ingrown toenails can be treated at home, provided an infection has not started, in which case professional insight is highly encouraged. Those with diabetes or nerve damage in the foot should make their physicians aware of an ingrown toenail as soon as possible.
Once you notice an ingrown toenail, try soaking your foot in water that is at room temperature. Once the nail and skin are significantly pliable, massage the areas impacted by the growth to slow swelling and work out the nail. Avoid trying to trim it again until you can do so properly. If things worsen or continue, give us a call; it may be time for minor surgery.