Health Tips from a Mother of Three

Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is a foot condition that occurs when a toenail curves around and grows backwards into the skin that borders the nail bed. While ingrown toenails can often be resolved with home remedies, infected toenails can cause significant pain and severe complications, so it is always best for sufferers to consult with a podiatrist if their symptoms persist. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatments of ingrown toenails and when the condition requires medical treatment.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Improper trimming is one of the most common causes of ingrown toenails. When the nails are trimmed too far beneath the top of the nail plate, the skin adjacent to the nail bed can easily fold into the nail. The condition can also be caused by additional factors that include heredity, trauma or injury to the foot, tight-fitting shoes and fungal toenail infections.

What are the Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenail symptoms range from mild to severe and can include pain surrounding the toenail, redness of the skin that surrounds the nail and swelling of the toe. The skin surrounding the toenail may also take on a swollen, blister-like appearance. It is important for individuals with ingrown toenails to consult with a podiatrist if their symptoms are accompanied by severe pain or if pus is present. Individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes or circulatory disorders should also consult with a physician if they have symptoms of an ingrown toenail, regardless of whether or not an infection may be present.

Treatment for Ingrown Toenails

In many cases, ingrown toenails can be remedied with home care practices. Soaking the affected toe in warm water and applying gentle pressure can help to loosen the skin surrounding the nail, which can help to guide the ingrown nail up and out. Once the ingrown area is visible, it can be clipped away carefully. After the nail is safely removed, applying antibiotic ointment to the affected area and covering it with a bandage will help to prevent infection and promote healing. Severely ingrown toenails can be removed with a minor surgical procedure that can usually be performed in a podiatrist's office. During the procedure, the podiatrist removes a portion of the nail. Over time, a healthy nail grows back in its place. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics if the nail is infected.

Prevention and Pain Relief

Ingrown toenails can cause significant discomfort and lead to serious infection in certain cases. If home treatment practices are ineffective, consulting with a podiatrist can help to ensure prompt treatment and relief from pain.