Ingrown toenails can be quite a nuisance. This is a condition when the nail becomes wider than the skin will tolerate. One edge or corner of a toenail—usually your big toe, though others can be affected—digs into the soft, fleshy neighboring skin.
Telltale symptoms include pain, tenderness, redness and swelling in the toe. Unfortunately, the discomfort can sometimes be severe, and an ingrown toenail can easily lead to infection of the surrounding tissues, including fungal toenail infections and buildup of pus. The symptoms can also come and go as the skin accommodates the widening nail. Eventually the nail will win and be a constant problem
The good news is that professional fixes (including permanent treatments) tend to be relatively simple and provide quick relief, so there’s no reason to keep struggling in silence.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails (and How to Prevent Them)
Unfortunately, there isn’t always an obvious cause for a case of ingrown toenails, and some people seem to be naturally predisposed to getting them. Unusually curved toenails, for example, often translates to a higher risk. Trauma and Father time can also make the nail grow wider.
However, there are some factors you can control. Ingrown toenails are more likely to occur if you wear shoes that are too tight in the toebox, or if you cut your toenails too deep into the corners. “Bathroom surgeons” produce endless patients. Opt for roomier shoes and cut nails straight across to minimize the risk.
Can I Treat an Ingrown Toenail at Home?
Although certain mild cases of ingrown toenails can be treated with a variety of home remedies such as foot soaks, antibiotic creams, or using pieces of cotton or dental floss, we don’t recommend them, especially if you have any other conditions that might put you at greater risk for an infection (such as diabetes or circulatory problems). Never attempt to perform “bathroom surgery” on yourself or anyone else by attempting to cut the nail, as this can often make the problem worse or cause it to recur.
In-office treatment is usually relatively quick and easy, with the best odds for success and the fewest risks. We recommend you leave this one to the experts.
Fixing an Ingrown Toenail
At our office, we will select one of a few minor surgical procedures to fix this stubborn, painful problem based on a thorough evaluation. This is performed in our office, requires very little downtime, and can provide instant relief. In the most typical procedure, the toe is given a local anesthetic, the embedded portion of the nail is carefully removed, and the toe is bandaged. Pain is in most cases very minor, and those who undergo the procedure are usually back on their feet within a day.
A Permanent Fix for Chronic Issues
Sometimes, ingrown toenails continue to recur despite preventative measures. In such cases, we often recommend a minor procedure that permanently removes the nail growth center (matrix) along the offending edge. This means the edge of the nail won’t grow back and cause any more problems.
Whether you’ve just had your first-ever case of ingrown toenails or you’ve been struggling with recurring problems for years, Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, D.P.M. can help. Please fill out our online contact form to request an appointment, or call 317-545-0505 to schedule one today.