Typically, we don’t spend much time thinking about how we trim our toenails — we just kind of do it on autopilot, like brushing our teeth. However, the way you trim your toenails matters, and if it’s not done correctly and carefully, you can wind up in significant pain due to an ingrown toenail.
An ingrown toenail is simply one that starts growing into your skin. It’s neither comfortable nor healthy!
The expert podiatry team at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers addresses this painful problem with advanced treatments, solid expertise, and compassion.
They’re your partners in supporting your foot health no matter what type of condition you’re dealing with, from injuries and toenail fungus to carefully managed diabetic foot care.
How does an ingrown toenail develop?
When the corner or side of your toenail starts painfully digging into your tender toe flesh, agony can ensue, including:
- Pain and tenderness
- Skin inflammation
- Warmth and redness on the affected skin (which may indicate infection)
- Pus if infection is present
Ingrown toenails typically develop on your big toe, and there are specific mistakes that can make it more likely to happen. One is cutting your toenails so that the top corners are curved, rather than cutting them straight across. Another is cutting your nails too short.
Wearing shoes that are too small or constrict your feet with narrow toe boxes also increases your chances of waking up with the pain and discomfort of ingrown toenail.
It may surprise you, too, to hear that simply kicking a ball hard or running can put you on the path to the condition, but when you think about it, these and other similar activities put stress on the very parts of your toe and toenail where an ingrown toenail situation emerges.
You also have to be very aware and vigilant about searching for signs of an ingrown toenail if you live with diabetes.
Anyone with circulation issues, like people who have diabetes, must be on the lookout for any signs of an ingrown toenail, because even a minor infection can get out of control quickly. That puts you at risk for serious complications like toe amputation.
Should I take a ‘wait and see’ approach with my ingrown toenail?
Because of the dangerous problems associated with diabetes, it’s imperative to seek treatment if you see signs of an ingrown toenail, so your South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers podiatrist can treat it quickly.
An infection that develops from an ingrown toenail can enter your bloodstream and lead to organ damage and even a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.
If you’re not dealing with diabetes and you notice any mild signs of an ingrown toenail but no infection, you can try soaking your feet in warm water to keep the symptoms from worsening.
A topical antibiotic can also help prevent your ingrown toenail from becoming infected, while over-the-counter pain medications can lessen your discomfort. These steps may be enough to turn your situation around.
Treating an in-grown toenail
When you visit your South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers podiatrist, they’ll examine your toenail carefully and assess whether you’re dealing with an infection. If so, they prescribe antibiotics to knock it out.
Depending on your individual situation, your podiatrist might recommend trimming some of your nail or removing a bit of the skin around your nail to encourage healing and get you feeling more comfortable.
Some people have stubborn, recurring ingrown toenails, which may require removing the nail entirely.
But don’t worry, we administer an anesthetic during this procedure so you’re comfortable during the procedure, and we offer advice on supporting the growth of your new nail as it grows over the next few months.
After you get your ingrown nail treated with us, do all you can to prevent another one — wear roomy shoes that fit well, trim your nails straight across and not too short, and wear protective shoes if you play sports, or steel-toed boots if you work in a field like construction.
You’re not on your own with an ingrown toenail. Call South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers to set up a consultation at the office nearest you, or request an appointment online.
We’re open early mornings, late evenings, and Saturdays for your convenience, with locations in Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, and Belle Glade, Florida.