One of the most common issues we treat here at Bucks Foot Clinic is ingrown toenail infections. It can be very difficult to carry on with ingrown toenail management on your own if you don’t know what to do, and this can turn into an infection. It can even lead to toenail fungus if not taken care of well.
We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about ingrown toenail infections. In this article, we’ll highlight the following:
- What is an ingrown toenail infection?
- What does toenail fungus look like?
- How to treat fungal toenail
- Ingrown toenail management
Read on to learn more!
What Is An Ingrown Toenail Infection?
Before we move on to treatment and management, it would help to make it clear on exactly what an ingrown toenail infection is and how it’s caused.
Ingrown toenail infections occur when the corner tip or edge of your toenail pokes into the skin surrounding it, instead of freely growing outwards. The toe that’s most likely to suffer from this issue is your big toe, since it’s usually the one that’s most in contact with your footwear.
This condition is potentially very painful and can affect pretty much anyone, of all ages. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail infection can lead to other infections that may even spread into the underlying bone structure of your feet.
If you have a condition that reduces the blood flow to your feet, like diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, you’re more likely to suffer from an ingrown toenail. In fact, if you suffer from any of these conditions, your ingrown toenail can turn sour very quickly and lead to severe complications. This is why it’s important to know the symptoms early on and treat it accordingly.
Ingrown toenails are treatable at home, but at-home treatments can lead to complications if not carried out properly and hygienically. These complications will require immediate attention from a podiatrist or medical practitioner.
What Does Toenail Fungus Look Like?
When left untreated, a simple ingrown toenail infection can lead to toenail fungus.
Toenail fungus is a form of infection that basically travels through the cracks in your nail / the cuts on your skin. It can change the colour of your toenail and make it much thicker than normal. It can also be very painful to deal with. Since toes are usually kept warm and may be damp due to sweat, they act as the perfect breeding ground for fungus, allowing it to thrive in these conditions. There are different types of fungi and even yeast that can affect the different parts of your nail. When left without treatment, the fungus can spread to your skin, the other toenails, and sometimes even your fingernails!
What does toenail fungus look like, you ask? Here’s your answer:
- A change in colour of your toenail, to either yellow, brown, and even white
- Thickened and often misshapen looking toenail
- Chalkiness / cloudiness in spots on your toenail
- Your toenail is separated from your nail bed
- Lots of breaks and cracks in one or multiple spots on your toenail
There are many ways toenail fungus can alter the visual appearance of your toenails. That’s why it’s important to know what it looks like, so you can treat it before it gets more serious.
How to Treat Fungal Toenail
There are lots of different at-home treatments for toenail fungus. Which one is most effective to you depends on your situation and symptoms. Our podiatrists will be able to properly diagnose and treat your fungal toenail efficiently. In general, oral antifungal medicines are very effective and have great potential. You may even pair these pills with topical antifungal cream / medicine for best results.
Apart from that, there are a few home remedies:
- Snakeroot Extract: Sometimes the best solutions are found in nature. The extract of this antifungal plant can be used to treat fungal nail infections, and has proved to be as effective as ciclopirox, a drug-store anti-fungal treatment.
- Ozone Oils: Oils like sunflower oil and olive oil are oils that contain the same gases that exist in the ozone layer. Many studies have been conducted that have concluded that these “ozonized” oils are effective when it comes to treating nail fungus and may just be the best home remedy on how to get rid of a nail infection. In fact, a study took place in which sunflower oil had higher clinical effects than a common antifungal medication called ketoconazole.
- Oregano Oil: Another proof of the effectiveness of nature is oregano oil. It contains “thymol”, a naturally occurring phenol that is said to have antifungal properties. In treatments, this oil is also combined with tea tree oil, but this increases the risk of negative side effects, irritation, and allergic reaction.
We recommend seeing a podiatrist, however, because at-home treatments can go south very quickly if not performed correctly.
Ingrown Toenail Management
Another very important thing to take care of is ingrown toenail management. When you have an ingrown toenail, and you practice ingrown toenail management, you are generally safe from fungus and infection. Good foot care and hygiene is very important. Here’s how you can go about ingrown toenail management:
- NEVER yank or pull on your nail! This can break the skin severely and lead to horrendous complications. You might be able to access your ingrown toenail by lifting your skin gently with a piece of floss. Just make sure to never force it open, and also ensure that your hands are sanitised and clean before you try to treat your ingrown toenail infection.
- To drain the affected area of pus and to reduce your pain, you must fill a bucket with warm water and add epsom salt or coarse salt to it. Then, gently soak your foot in this solution so your skin softens around your ingrown toenail.
- After softening your skin and draining it of any pus, you can put antibiotic / antifungal lotion or cream on the nail and the skin around and under it. Apply the cream directly.
- If your pain is unbearable, you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to help with it. Apart from this, you can also take OTC medications to reduce the swelling and discomfort. If the pain truly is unbearable, though, we suggest seeing a podiatrist instead of jumping into OTC medications and trying to treat it on your own.After you’ve tried all of the above, if your pain and infection persist after a few days, it’s advisable to visit a podiatrist. They’ll be able to lift and access the underpart of your nail much easier, so your topical antibiotics can be applied swiftly and can take effect better.
Now that you know some of the main things to know about ingrown toenail infections, it’ll be easier for you to identify an issue before it gets out of hand. Book an appointment with Buck Foot Clinic if you think you may be suffering from an ingrown toenail infection. Our podiatrists will be able to help you!