Ingrown Toenails

Normally, toenails are built to grow forward. However, sometimes the edge of a nail will curve inward instead and start growing into the skin. This causes the flesh to become sore and irritated, and an ingrown toenail is born.

While a great number of ingrown nails can be treated well enough at home, there are certain cases when it is much preferable (or even a necessity) to have your toenail treated professionally.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Nails become ingrown for several different reasons. Some can be prevented, while others may be ingrained.

  • Wearing improper shoes. Shoes that are too tight in the toe box or place too much forward pressure on the foot can cramp the toes and cause nails to grow erratically.
  • Cutting toenails the wrong way. Trimming toenails much too short or with a rounded shape can cause them to grow curved and inward.
  • An injury to the nail can cause it regrow incorrectly.
  • Some families tend to have higher rates of ingrown toenails due to inheriting nails that naturally grow curved at the sides.

Causes that are based on external factors can often be prevented by making changes to footwear or trimming habits. Other causes may require more advanced forms of treatment.

    When Should I See a Podiatrist for My Ingrown Toenail?

    There are times when you should skip home treatment for an ingrown toenail and see a professional instead. These include:

    • The toe is showing signs of infection, such as discharge of pus, redness that is spreading and radiating from the site of the ingrown nail, or severe pain.
    • You have diabetes or any other condition that interferes with circulation to the feet. Even small injuries can develop into big problems if not treated professionally.
    • Ingrown toenails keep recurring even after you have tried taking steps to prevent them.

    If you are ever unsure about whether you should come in for your ingrown toenail, never hesitate to give us a call. We will be happy to give you advice.

      Treating Ingrown Toenails

      If you have none of the factors above, odds are good you can treat your ingrown toenail simply at home. Try the following method:

      • Soak your foot for 15-20 minutes in warm water to soften the nail and skin.
      • After drying your foot, slide a small piece of cotton or dental floss beneath the ingrown section of the nail.
      • Apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage.

      If you do not see improvement after a couple days, or your condition grows worse, let us know. We may safely lift or partially remove the nail to aid in healing without raising your risk of infection. This is something you should never try on your own!

      If you have recurring ingrown toenails, your problem may be genetic. In these cases, removal of the nail and treatment of the underlying nailbed can prevent that part of the nail from growing back and take care of the problem for good. Such a procedure can be performed in-office with local anesthesia and no downtime.

      If you are suffering from ingrown toenail problems, give Foot & Ankle Clinics of Arizona a call at (480) 917-2300. You can also schedule an appointment with us online.

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