Ingrown Toenail SymptomsThis condition is characterized by growth of the nail (typically a corner or edge) into the surrounding skin of the toe. It is most common in the big toe, but can happen to any of the smaller toes as well. The first noticeable symptoms are usually pain and tenderness. This may be accompanied by redness and swelling, too. If the ingrown toenail leads to infection, you’ll probably notice the redness spreading, or even a buildup of pus underneath the nail. Infections are serious problems that must be treated immediately to prevent complications that could result in amputation.
Cause of Ingrown ToenailsCommon causes associated with this condition include:
- Improper toenail trimming techniques. Cutting nail too short or rounding the corners too far are likely culprits.
- Incorrect foot gear. Shoes with narrow toe boxes (or just aren’t long enough) can pinch and press nails, causing them to grow inward.
- Genetics. Some people are simply born with faulty nail structures prone to becoming ingrown.
- Direct trauma. A specific injury can bend the nail into a position where it grows into the skin.
Fixing Ingrown Toenails
Home CareFirst things first: do not attempt home care if you suffer from diabetes (or other conditions that could compromise your immune system or healing response), or if you have an ongoing infection. These cases should be treated by a specialist immediately. However, if you are healthy and your ingrown toenail is still relatively mild, you may opt for the following home care strategies first:
- Avoid tight shoes that won’t press on the nail. We recommend something with a large toe box, or sandals.
- Take acetaminophen or another OTC pain reliever.
- Soak feet in warm water, 20 minutes at a time, a couple of times per day.
If home care doesn’t work or isn’t recommended—or you just want to be done with your ingrown toenail as fast as possible—come see us for treatment.
If the ingrown toenail is still very mild, we may simply be able to lift it. However, most will require a partial nail removal to extract the ingrown edge or corner. This procedure is very quick, performed under local anesthetic, and should not cause much pain or get in the way of your life—the pain relief you feel will be almost immediate, and you should be able to return to normal activities right away.
We’ll also check carefully for any signs of infection and provide appropriate countermeasures or preventative care.
A Permanent FixIf ingrown nails become chronic—often due to genetics—we may recommend a second procedure following the partial nail removal. This will involve a partial removal of the nail matrix as well (often as little as one millimeter in width), which will prevent new nail from growing back along the problematic border. The remaining portion of your nail will continue to grow normally, and the difference may be barely noticeable a year later. A partial nail matrix removal has a slightly longer recovery phase than the nail removal alone, with some aftercare requirements (for example, foot soaks). However, most patients will be back on their feet quickly. There’s no need to live with foot pain with every step of the day. If you’re looking to put an end to the pains from ingrown toenails, then call our McPherson office at (620) 241-3313, or request an appointment online.
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