Ingrown toenails can become a painful nuisance that can affect us throughout the day. An ingrown nail is when a side of the nail starts to grow into and irritate the skin. This can cause pain and redness. There are a variety of reasons that they can develop, like cutting your nails improperly opposed to straight across, after nail trauma, or some people naturally have more curved nails than others. These can be especially painful in shoes and eventually become infected if left untreated. So what can be done?
If the ingrown toenail is minor, than your doctor may be able to trim the offending edge to give you some relief; however, by the time most people come in with an ingrown toenail it is past the point of a simple trim. The next option is what is called a partial nail avulsion. What this normally entails is your doctor numbing up your toe to help take away discomfort, so that the portion of the side of the nail that is ingrown can be removed all the way back to where the nail starts under the skin. If you are someone who has had recurrent ingrown nails on the same toe, than a chemical can also be used to help prevent that portion of the nail to grow back ingrown. After the procedure you may have some mild discomfort once the numbing medicine wears off, which can be controlled with Tylenol or anti-inflammatories. Your doctor will usually have you soak your toe over the next couple days and cover the area with a Band-Aid. Sometimes, especially if the toe is infected, your doctor may put you on a course of oral antibiotics.
–Dr. Colleen Law
An ingrown toenail, or as it’s officially known, Onychocryptosis, happens when the nail plate penetrates the skin. This very painful condition can affect any nail but it is most often seen with the nails of the big toes. At Blue Ridge Foot & Ankle Clinic we treat many cases of Ingrown Toenails.
There are several different possible causes of ingrown toenails. A trauma to the nail can cause it to grow in an irregular fashion so that it starts to grow inward, penetrating the skin. Deformed nail beds or plates due to genetics or disease are also more likely to lead to ingrown nails. Even improper trimming of the nails (hint: don’t make them too short or file them in an overly round shape so that the nail is not right up against the skin) can lead to this painful condition. Beware too of shoes that are too tight and compress the toes as this also can cause nails to start to ingrow.
How Do You Know if You Have an Ingrown Nail?
The most obvious sign of an ingrown toenail is pain and redness around the edge of the nail on the toe. Ingrown toenails are highly susceptible to infection and you may see swelling at the base or sides of the nail and it will be warm to the touch. You may see pus draining from the irritated area as well.
If the ingrown toenail is mild and you are not seeing signs of infection, you may try a home remedy first of soaking the foot in warm water with some Epsom’s salt. However, this is not advised if you have diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation as the risk of developing an infection with these conditions can have very serious detrimental effects. If your ingrown toenail is getting worse instead of better, it’s time to make an appointment with one of our board certified podiatrists. Dr. Stewart M. Chang and Dr. Kevin P. Murray have extensive experience treating ingrown toenails. A minor surgical procedure can be performed to permanently remove the border of the nail that is ingrown.
If you would like to get relief from an ingrown toenail, make an appointment at either our Fishersville or Charlottesville office today.