Keeping Ingrown Toenails at Bay

Over time, toenails have become less important than they were for our ancestors. Nowadays, our toes are pretty well-protected by the footwear we sport. Their relative lack of usefulness, however, doesn’t change the fact we still have nails on our toes and that problems with them can arise. A particularly common issue is ingrown toenails, and we provide treatment here at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle for many patients who have this happen to them.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of ingrown toenails so you can receive the care you need, but understanding why the condition happens can enable you to take preventive measures.

Ingrown Toenail Symptoms and Causes

The main symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:

  • Tenderness and pain in the affected toe, particularly along the edges of the ingrown nail.
  • Swelling and redness around the toenail.
  • Infection of the tissue around the nail.

In some cases, the discomfort is rather severe or there is pus and redness that appears to be spreading out from the immediate area. If this is happening with your ingrown toenail, be sure to schedule an appointment with either our Frisco or Avon, CO foot doctor offices. Also, be sure to contact us if you are diabetic and believe a nail has become ingrown. There is heightened infection risk with this condition, so you will need professional care.

There are several possible causes for an ingrown toenail:

  • Wearing improperly-fitting footwear (particularly shoes that are too tight and crowd the toenails)
  • Clipping your toenails incorrectly
  • Physical trauma (like dropping something heavy on your foot)
  • An inherited nail structure of unusually-curved toenails

Treating and Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Treatment for an ingrown toenail will depend on how badly it has ingrown and whether or not the issue is recurrent. For a mild case, especially one that is caught early on, you can probably address the problem yourself at home using the following procedure:

  • Soak your foot for about 15 to 20 minutes in warm water to relieve tenderness and reduce swelling.
  • Gently lift the ingrown edge and place a bit of waxed dental floss underneath to encourage the nail to grow above the skin and not into it.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment or cream to the area and cover with a bandage.

Following that, switch to sensible footwear like open-toed shoes or sandals to keep pressure off the toe until it has healed. If you have pain, you may want to take some ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen, but be sure to check with our office for dosage recommendations.

When professional care is needed, we might lift the nail for you or else use a removal procedure. Depending on your case, we may remove either part of the affected toenail or the entire nail. In cases where the condition is recurrent, we may recommend permanently removing the ingrown part of the nail.

The best treatment is to prevent the condition from happening in the first place, so you may want to utilize the following prevention tips:

  • Always wear shoes that fit well. They should have room in the front, including about a thumb’s width of distance between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Also, your toes should be able to wiggle freely.
  • Clip your toenails the right way. Instead of rounding off your nails and trimming them too short, cut them straight across and roughly even with the front of your toes.
  • Protect your feet. If your job entails moving heavy items on a frequent basis, be sure to pick up a pair of steel-toed work boots or safety shoes.
  • Ask for help. If you have to move something heavy at home, enlist the help of a friend or loved one to reduce the risk of it damaging your toe.

Professional Care for Ingrown Toenails in Avon, CO

Speaking of “asking for help,” don’t hesitate to reach out to Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle whenever you need treatment or foot care services. We are here to help you with all of your foot care needs! Contact us today to find out what we can do for you by calling our Frisco, CO office at (970) 668-4565 or our Avon office at (970) 949-0500, or request your appointment at either location online.

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