Ingrown Toenail Treatment

Ingrown toenails are a common nail problem that we see at Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists. However, as common as this issue is, it can be quite painful for the person suffering from it. Why is it so painful? Because it happens when either the skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. Ingrown toenails can become infected, resulting in even more pain.

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Some causes of ingrown toenails can be prevented, while some are a little harder to avoid:
  • Your toenails are simply too large
  • Your toes curl, either congenitally or from diseases like arthritis
  • Trauma, such as stubbing your toe or having your toe stepped on
  • Repeated trauma, like the pounding to which runners typically subject their feet
  • Cutting your toenails incorrectly, causing them to regrow into the skin
  • Tight hosiery or shoes with narrow toe boxes
In the case of cutting your toenails incorrectly, there are ways to cut your nails to avoid ingrown toenails. Using a safety nail clipped, cut the nails straight across, so that the nail corner is visible. If you cut the nail too short, you are inviting the nail corner to grow into the skin. It is the natural tendency, when the edge of the nail starts to grow in, to cut down at an angle at the nail edge to relieve the pain. This does relieve the pain temporarily, but it can also start a downward spiral, training the nail to become more and more ingrown.

Treating an Ingrown Toenail

If you have an ingrown toenail that is not infected, you can usually find relief by treating it yourself.

  • Soak your feet in warm salt water
  • Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel
  • Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the area
  • Bandage the toe
If excessive inflammation, swelling, pain, or discharge is present, the toenail is probably infected and should be treated by an experienced podiatrist. A skilled foot doctor can trim or remove the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure.

How Do I Know If My Ingrown Toenail Is Infected?

Ingrown toenails are painful enough…but when they get infected, the pain can get even worse. When you get an ingrown nail, your toenail cuts in to the skin on your toe, so it's very easy for it to become infected. It is very important not to let an infected ingrown toenail go untreated, because it has the possibility of evolving into something even more serious.

There are a few ways you can tell whether or not your ingrown toenail is infected. Examine the area around the ingrown nail, and look for any of the following symptoms:
  • Swelling
  • Pus either around the area or draining from the wound
  • Blood
  • Redness
  • Feeling of warmth
  • An unpleasant smell, possibly with a discharge from the site of the ingrown nail
Pus is really the biggest telltale sign that your ingrown toenail is infected, because the body only produces pus when it is fighting an infection. Swelling will usually happen as a way to accommodate the pus and other fluids when there's an infection.

If your toenail is infected, you're going to need an experienced podiatrist to remove the nail that’s embedded in your skin. The nail must be removed so the infection can heal. Too many people try to use tweezers or toenail clippers to fix the issue themselves, but they will often make the situation worse by doing that. Likewise, if you have an ingrown toenail that is not infected and you try to pull it out yourself, you run the risk of causing it to become infected.

The bottom line is that you should not try to treat an infected ingrown toenail by yourself.

If you have an ingrown toenail and you're looking for relief or if you think your ingrown toenail is infected, call the Gastonia office of Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists at 704-861-0425. Our talented medical team has an excellent record in treating painful ingrown toenails, curing related infections, and advising patients of preventative measures for the future. Call today for a confidential appointment.

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054