Posts for tag: ingrown toenails
An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that occurs when the corner of a toenail, usually the big toe, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, this can cause pain and swelling in the affected area. If you are a healthy individual you can often treat the ingrown toenail with simple at-home care; however, patients with diabetes, nerve damage in the feet or signs of a foot infection should always see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
There are several factors that could increase your risk for developing an ingrown toenail. These include:
- Heredity: if your family has a history of ingrown toenails you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Poorly fitted shoes: shoes that are too tight and cramp up the toes can also cause painful ingrown toenails, particularly in teens whose feet are still growing rapidly
- Improper nail trimming: if you cut your nails too short or if you cut them at an angle rather than cutting them straight across you could be leaving yourself prone to an ingrown toenail
- Injury to the toe: jamming or stubbing the toe can also increase the risk of an ingrown toenail (this is most common in athletes)
Treating an Ingrown Toenail
If there are no signs of an infection (e.g. foul odor; skin that’s hot to the touch) and you are otherwise healthy then you can probably treat the ingrown toenail all by yourself from the comfort of your home. Take frequent Epsom salt soaks and apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. Again, if there is no infection you can soak nails for several minutes so that they soften, and then gently clip away the affected area of the nail.
If you are experiencing signs of an infected ingrown toenail or if you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail it’s important that you seek a podiatrist’s care right away. A podiatrist can treat the infection while also removing part of or the entire nail so that it grows in properly.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
While there are certain factors such as heredity that cannot be helped, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce your risk for ingrown toenails. For one, always make sure that you wear properly fitted shoes that do not put pressure on the toes.
Secondly and most importantly, you need to know how to properly trim your toenails. Nails should be level with the tips of your toes. If nails are cut too short or if you trim your nails so they are curved at the edges rather than straight then an ingrown toenail is more likely to develop as the nail grows out.
Athletes should also make sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear for their chosen sport. Not all tennis shoes are created equally so if you have any questions about the footwear that you should wear, don’t hesitate to speak with your foot doctor.
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel pain
- Ankle sprains and fractures
- Foot fractures
- Sports-related injuries
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Corns and calluses
- Diabetic foot care
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Heel spurs
Any condition which affects walking or standing is frustrating and irritating, but especially frustrating are ingrown toenails. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can be very painful. However, there are ways to prevent and treat them. Find out more about ingrown toenails with help from your Fairfax, VA podiatrist.
What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of the toenail grows into and penetrates the skin. Ingrown toenails may become a reoccurring issue. They are most often found on the big, or “great”, toes. This condition begins with slight discomfort and progresses into severe pain and, in some cases, infection of the affected skin. There may be drainage, discharge and, if it becomes infected, pus coming from the area of the ingrown nail.
How does an ingrown toenail occur?
The main cause of an ingrown toenail is improperly cutting your toenail. The best way to prevent this condition is to cut your toenails straight across and file down the sides. However, there are more factors which contribute to an ingrown toenail. Other causes of ingrown toenails include:
- improper shoe gear, especially in sports
- trauma to the foot
- foot issues like hammertoe or bunions
- toenail fungus
- poor hygiene
- improper gait
If an ingrown toenail becomes persistent, reoccurring or extremely painful, it should be treated by your podiatrist.
How is an ingrown toenail treated in Fairfax?
At-home treatment for an ingrown toenail involves lukewarm water soaks, keeping the foot elevated and taking over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and swelling. However, if the symptoms persist, you may need your podiatrist's help. Your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. After diagnosing an ingrown toenail, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to remove part or all of the afflicted toenail. Recovery time is normally about two weeks with regular foot soaks.
If you are in need of treatment for your ingrown toenail, please consult with Dr. Steven Vetter at Oakton Foot and Ankle Center in Fairfax, VA for more information and to find the best solution for you. Call (703) 352-8888 to schedule your appointment today!