Ingrown nails are a common condition that occurs when the corners or edges of the toenail grow into the flesh. Ingrown toenails usually affect the big toe, resulting in pain, swelling, redness, and even infection. When the situation is mild, you can take care of the ingrown nail yourself.
However, some situations require medical care. Ingrown toenails can cause serious complications that may need surgical treatment. The risk of complications rises for people who have diabetes and other health conditions.
Ingrown toenails can happen to anyone, but they are more common in people who have sweaty feet. Several things can cause ingrown nails, including cutting the nails incorrectly and having curved or irregular toenails. Wearing footwear that places too much pressure on the big toes can also cause ingrown nails.
Poor posture, toenail injury, and poor foot hygiene can lead to ingrown nails. The condition can be the result of genetic predisposition. Some activities can increase the risk of ingrown toenails, and they include ballet, football, soccer, and kickboxing.
Ingrown nails can be very painful, and the pain tends to get worse over time. The early symptoms include the skin becoming swollen, tender, or hard. Experiencing pain when pressure is applied and fluid buildup around the nail are also symptoms of ingrown nails.
If the toe is infected, expect to see symptoms like bleeding, red and swollen skin, pain, and oozing pus. Overgrowth of the skin around the affected toe is a symptom of an infected ingrown toenail. Early treatment of ingrown nails will help prevent the worsening of symptoms.
A doctor will diagnose ingrown nails by assessing the symptoms and carrying out a physical exam. If the toe is infected, an X-ray will be taken to determine the extent of the damage. The X-ray will show how deep the ingrown nail has penetrated the skin. An X-ray can also reveal if the condition is due to injury.
There are several treatment options for ingrown nails. If the nail is not infected, one can easily treat the condition at home. Soaking the feet and pushing the skin away from the edge using a cotton ball can help. Soak the cotton ball in olive oil before use.
If there are signs of infection, medical treatment is necessary. Doctors may recommend surgical treatment that involves lifting the toenail, partial nail removal, or removing the nail and tissue. Oral or topical antibiotics may be prescribed to treat or prevent an infection.
You can prevent ingrown nails by making simple changes. Proper trimming of nails can prevent the condition. Trim the nails straight across and avoid curving the edges or cutting the nails too short. Wearing fitting shoes, tights, and socks will also help prevent ingrown nails. Wearing steel-toed boots can be helpful when working in hazardous conditions. Proper foot hygiene will also help prevent ingrown nails.
If you have ingrown nails, you can try home remedies for a few days or weeks. If the pain continues or if symptoms persist, seek medical advice. If the nail fails to respond to home remedies or an infection occurs, surgery may be necessary.
To learn more about ingrown nails, visit Pacific Point Podiatry at our office in Freedom, California. You can also call 831-288-3400 to schedule an appointment today.