If you trim your toenail too short, or you taper the corners so that the nail curves with the shape of your toe; you are making a big mistake. This may cause an ingrown toenail. This way the nail begins to grow inside the skin. Ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) is an unpleasant and painful condition that may also result from wearing shoes that are too tight. At first, it may be hard and red then it gets swollen and infected resulting in severe pain.
Ingrown toenails can occur at any age though older people are often at higher risk because toenails get harder and thicken with age.
Following are the main causes of ingrown nails:
Ingrown toenails are small but very painful. The pain might be mild in some cases but in some, it can get worse in stages.
Some of the symptoms and signs are:
At an early stage, the end of the toe turns red with mildly painful. It feels swollen on the touch but there is no pus or drainage.
When an infection develops, the toe becomes extremely swollen and pus starts draining. This is a severe stage.
It is wise to see the doctor when you start noticing redness or mild pain. See the doctor if the following conditions occur:
If an infection takes place
Ingrown toenails that are not yet infected can be treated at home. However, if your toe has pierced skin, not getting any better, or is infected you need to seek medical help.
Homecare can help prevent an ingrown toenail from getting worse.
If these home remedies do not work and the nail doesn’t get better, see a foot specialist.
When nothing works, surgery is an effective way to get the nail fixed. Doctors remove the infected portion of the nail surgically. The surgery is done under local anesthetic and the doctor uses scissors to cut the ingrown toenail without disturbing the nail bed. A piece of cotton in place between the ski and nail so that it doesn’t reoccur.
In extreme cases, the whole toenail is extracted. This is not very painful and most people get back to normal activities the next day.
After the surgery, the patient is sent home with a toe-bandage. It is advisable to keep the foot elevated for 2-3 days. The wound must be kept clean and dry. Antibiotics must be taken on time as prescribed. Toenail usually grows back after a few months.
If the toe is left untreated, it can cause foot ulcers, infection in the bone, open sores, and loss of blood flow. If you have diabetes then the infection can be more dangerous.
Ingrown nails can be very small but they cause great hassle! When skin grows over the nail or the nail grows into the skin, they both cause pain. This condition gets worse when wearing tight shoes.
Although they can be treated at home, in certain conditions, there is a dire need to see a foot specialist. Doctors surgically remove the ingrown infected nail.
To avoid ingrown nails and their troubles, people should focus on their lifestyle and wear comfortable shoes with lots of space for feet to breathe. They should also use correct trimming techniques.
Despite all the preventive techniques, some people are still prone to getting ingrown nails due to different reasons. They might have a genetic predisposition, sweat problems, or diabetes. Elder people are at higher risk as the nails thicken with aging.
If you want to know more about ingrown toenails and their treatment options, please contact Dr. Gowreeson Thevendran or visit www.orthofootmd.com.