Ingrown Toenail Infections are surprisingly common, and they usually occur due to negligence.
Read this article to learn more about ingrown toenail infections, their symptoms, and how to go about ingrown toenail management.
What Are Ingrown Toenail Infections?
It is necessary to know what you’re looking for when self-diagnosing yourself with an infection. You can’t confirm something unless you know what it is. So, what exactly is an Ingrown Toenail Infection?
Ingrown Toenails occur when the edge or corner tip of your nail pierces into your skin and then begins to grow back into it. It can happen to everyone and is extremely common and can also be quite painful to deal with. When you have an unattended ingrown nail, chances of infections run high, especially if you’re on your toes a lot! When left unattended, these infections can spread into the underlying bone structures of your feet. This is why it’s always best to nip these painful growths at the bud!
What Causes Ingrown Toenail Infections?
The main cause of ingrown toenail infection is negligence. When you have an ingrown nail, it is important to treat it with utmost care so as to not let it get infected. If you notice an ingrown nail, you must treat it so you can prevent infections from spreading into your foot.
You can get ingrown toenails from cutting your toenails too short or keeping them too long, wearing improper footwear, angled nail cutting, toenail injury, and poor foot hygiene.
Sometimes, it’s genetic too. If you have a genetic predisposition to having curved toenails, you are at high risk for ingrowths and infections.
The best way to prevent these infections is to maintain proper foot hygiene, remember to cut your nails straight, wear shoes that fit you comfortably and check in with your podiatrist if something seems amiss.
Ingrown Toenail Symptoms
Now that you know what an ingrown toenail is and why it’s important to know its symptoms early on, we can tell you what to look out for when self-diagnosing an ingrown toenail infection.
You may have an ingrown toenail infection if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Swelling in the affected area
- Pain when you touch the area
- You feel pressure under your affected toenail
- Throbbing sensations in the area
- Foul smell coming from the affected area
- Warmth in and around the infected area (this is your body’s way of telling you that you have an infection, while also fighting off said infection)
- Hardened skin around affected nail, accompanies with redness
- You may experience a build-up / ooze of fluid in the affected area
- Your nail is thick, yellowing, or cracked. This is a key symptom of a fungal infection and must never be ignored
- You may even develop an abscess that fills with pus, in the area where your nail has punctured your skin
- The edges of your nail have an overgrowth of new and inflamed tissue
Just like any other medical issue, an ingrown toenail starts with minor symptoms that can later on become more serious if not tended to. You must always try to identify an issue when it’s in its budding stage so you can take care of it before it gets too serious.
Who Is Likely To Get Ingrown Toenail Infections?
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.
Ingrowing Toenail Management
If your ingrown toenail looks like it’s just about budding and is still in its early phase, you can go ahead and try out any of the below-ingrown toenail management methods.
- 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 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 under part of your nail much easier, so your topical antibiotics can be applied swiftly and can take effect better.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Apart from ingrown toenail management, it’s important to know how you can prevent the infection altogether. Prevention is always better than cure, so follow these rules so you never have to suffer from an ingrown toenail infection:
- Whenever you trim your toenails, make sure to trim straight across. The edges of your nail must never curve inwards.
- Try not to cut your nails too short.
- Always only wear shoes that fit you properly. Your shoes must never be too tight, and your toes must always have breathing room inside. The same applies for socks and tights.
- If you work in conditions that are hazardous in nature, i.e. construction, try to wear steel-toed boots while working to prevent heavy objects falling on your toenails and hurting them.
- If you suspect that your toenails may be abnormally thick or curved, visit a podiatrist for confirmation. Surgery may be necessary for prevention in this case.
If you’ve tried the entire above pre-infection ingrown toenail management techniques, and it hasn’t worked… It may be time to visit a podiatrist. Book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic today and kick all your foot problems to the curb.