Nail infections are a very common issue people deal with. No matter how old you are, you are susceptible to a nail infection if you don’t maintain proper foot hygiene and practice foot care. You can develop a nail infection from a seemingly small problem if you don’t handle it right. For example, if you leave your ingrown toenail symptoms unattended for too long, you run the risk of it getting infected.
There are many factors that could lead to nail infections. As podiatrists, we know the importance of foot care. That’s why we’ve put together this article to help you understand more nail infections and how to identify ingrown toenail symptoms. Read on to learn more.
What Is A Nail Infection?
If you’re showing signs of discolored toenails and other unpleasant symptoms, you may just be dealing with a nail infection. Nail infections tend to commonly be fungal in nature.
A fungal nail infection develops from the overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail. It’s common knowledge that fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, so the nails on your feet have ideal conditions for fungi to naturally overpopulate. Most fungal nail infections are caused by the very same fungi that cause “athlete’s foot”, ringworm, and “jock itch”. The rapid overpopulation of fungi that are already present in your body can cause nail infections. Fungal nail infections are quite communicable, so if you’ve come in contact with someone who had a fungal infection, you may have contracted it too. Toenails tend to be affected more than fingernails since they’re usually confined to shoes, which are the ideal breeding grounds for these fungi.
Pedicures at nail salons can also lead to fungal nail infections, which is why you need to make sure the tools are cleaned and disinfected regularly and well. Tools like nail cutters and files can very easily spread fungal nail infections from person to person if they’re not sanitised properly.
What Are Ingrown Toenails?
A very common form of nail infection is an ingrown toenail infection. It’s important to know what an ingrown toenail is so you can treat it properly to avoid it getting infected.
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 nail infections can spread into the underlying bone structures of your feet. This is why it’s always best to nip these painful growths in the bud!
How Do Ingrown Toe Nail Infections Form?
The main cause of nail infections like these 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.
Identifying Ingrown Toenail Symptoms
In order to avoid nail infections like ingrown toenail infections, it’s important to recognize ingrown toenail symptoms in their early stages. This way, you can get the treatment you need at the earliest.
You may be dealing with an ingrown toenail if:
- You have tenderness/pain in your toe on one or both sides of the nail
- The area surrounding your toenail is red
- Your toe swells up around the nail
- You notice infection in the tissue around your nail
If you notice the above symptoms, visit a podiatrist and nip the issue at the bud before negligence turns it into a full-blown nail infection.
How to Tell If it’s A Nail Infection
In case you’ve landed on this article too late, and your ingrown toenail looks like it’s infected, but you’re unsure… Here are a few sure-shot symptoms that indicate you’re dealing with a nail infection:
- Pain on touching
- Pressure under the nail
- Hardening / Redness of the skin around the nail
- Foul smell
- Oozing fluid / fluid buildup
- Pus or an abscess in the affected toe
- Warmth emanating from the area around the nail
Am I Susceptible To This Nail Infection?
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 them 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.
If you suspect you have a nail infection, or if you’ve identified an ingrown toenail in its early stages, book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic. We can help you kick that nail infection to the curb!