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What You Need to Know About Ingrown Toenails


http://www.advancedfootankle.com Hi. I’m Dr. David Laurino, and today we’re going to talk about ingrown toenails. So what is an ingrown toenail? When a toenail is ingrown, it is curved and grows into the skin, usually at the nail borders or the sides of the toenail. This digging in of the toenail irritates the skin, often creating pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes warmth in the toe. If an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area, which is often marked by drainage and, sometimes, foul odor. However, even if the toe isn’t painful, red, swollen, or warm, a nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection.

Causes of ingrown toenails can include the following:

  • Heredity. In many people, the tendency for ingrown toenails is inherited.
  • Trauma. Sometimes an ingrown toenail is the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toe, such as kicking or running.
  • Improper trimming. The most common cause of ingrown toenails is cutting your nails too short. This encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail.
  • Improperly sized footwear. Ingrown toenails can result from wearing socks and shoes that are tight or short.
  • Certain nail conditions. These can cause ingrown toenails, such as fungal infections or losing a toenail due to trauma.

So, how do we treat this? Sometimes initial treatment for ingrown toenails can be safely performed at home; however, home treatment is strongly discouraged if an infection is suspected or for those who have medical conditions that put feet at high risk, such as diabetes, nerve damage in the foot, or poor circulation. One of the things you can do at home is to soak your foot in luke-warm water; adding Epsom salts may help. Gently massage the side of the nail fold to help reduce inflammation. Avoid attempting bathroom surgery! Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the conditions to worsen over time. If your symptoms fail to improve, it’s time to make an appointment to see us.

What you should know about home treatment is don’t cut a notch in the nail. Contrary to what some people believe, this does not reduce the tendency for the nail to curve into the skin. Don’t repeatedly trim nail borders (or what I call chase the corners). Repeated trimming does not change the way the nail grows and can make the condition worse. Don’t place cotton under the nail; not only does this not relieve the pain, but it provides a place for harmful bacteria to grow, which could result in an infection. Over the counter treatments are ineffective. Topical medications may mask the pain, but they don’t correct the underlying problem.

What types of professional treatments are available? After examining the toe, we will select the treatment best suited for you. If an infection is present, oral antibiotics may be prescribed. Sometimes a minor surgical procedure, often performed in the office, will ease the pain and remove the offending nail. After applying a local anesthetic, a portion of the nail border will be removed. Removal of the nail root is normally recommended in most cases to provide a long-term, permanent solution to the problem. Following the procedure, a light bandage will be applied. Most people experience very little pain after surgery and may resume normal activity the next day. If you’re prescribed an oral antibiotic, be sure to take all the medication, even if your symptoms have improved.

Can you prevent ingrown toenails? Many causes of ingrown toenails may be prevented by the following: proper trimming – cut toenails in a fairly straight line and don’t cut them too short; well-fitted shoes and socks – don’t wear shoes that are short or tight in the toe area or even shoes that are too loose.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. If you suffer from this condition, contact us for a solution and let us help get you back on your feet doing the things you love. Please look for more videos on all things foot and ankle on our website and connect with us on social media. Thank you.