Ingrown toenails. Many of us have experienced at least one ingrown toenail in our lifetime, others unfortunately have had many. These issues, like many, start small but over time can become tremendously painful. Ingrown toenails, fortunately, are a well-understood issue, and often times they are manageable at home.
So how does a toenail become ingrown? There are quite a few small things that can lead to an ingrown nail. Having shoes that are too tight or that crowd your toes is one major factor. Another common cause is cutting your toenails incorrectly. You should always cut your toenails straight across, don’t cut them curved to match the curvature of your toe. If you have injured your toenail that can lead to an ingrown nail. The last major reason is less in your control. If you have curved or wavy toenails naturally, you can be more predisposed to forming ingrown nails.
Now that we know how to get them, what does an ingrown nail do to your foot? Well, an ingrown toenail happens when your nail grows down into the soft flesh of your toe. This can happen on the corner of the nail or sometimes on the entire side of your nail, most often on your big toe. The pain from an ingrown nail can vary greatly, from hardly noticeable to debilitating. If left untreated, an ingrown nail can lead to infection, which if left alone long enough could lead to much more drastic consequences, including and not limited to amputation. Those with diabetes MUST take extra care, as the reduced circulation and potential neuropathy can lead to the spread of infection much faster than expected.
Ingrown toenails are exceedingly common, and luckily there are a lot of options for taking care of the nail at home. Start by soaking your feet in warm water, use Epsom salts in the water for 15 to 20 minutes three to four times a day. Once soaked, if possible, try and slide a strand of dental floss under the ingrown edge to try and help the nail grow above the skin’s edge. If you think an infection is starting, make an appointment to come to see one of our doctors at your earliest chance. You can use antibiotic creams in the meantime. Once an infection starts, it is a lot harder for your toe to heal after removing the offending nail.
Ingrown toenails are nothing to be afraid of and are very preventable. Be sure to wear properly fitting shoes that give your toes enough space. If you see an ingrown nail forming, it’s always a smart idea to have a trained professional take care of the problem correctly the first time. If you suspect you have an ingrown nail, or have an infection of any kind, call Pueblo Ankle and Foot Care today and schedule an appointment!