Ingrown toenails have plagued generations, and they still exist as one of the most common type of foot condition. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some pointers about ingrown toenail infection as well as ingrown toenail symptoms. Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Ingrown Toenails?
Let’s start off with some basic knowledge about ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails ares a condition in which the side or a corner of a toenail starts growing into the skin and then the flesh. Anyone can have this condition, but people who have diabetes are more susceptible. Ingrown toenails are treatable at home in most cases, but since they can cause serious complications, medical treatment from a podiatrist is the best option.
What Are The Causes Of Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenails are a very common occurrence in both men and women. People with sweaty feet like (for example, teenagers and elderly people) are at a higher risk.
There are several things that can cause ingrown toenails, such as:
- Curved toenails (irregular formation)
- Toenail injury, like a stubbed toe or bruise from dropping something heavy on your foot
- Cutting toenails in an incorrect manner
- Wearing footwear that is too tight
- Poor foot hygiene
- Hereditary ingrown toenails
- Among other causes for ingrown toenails are activities such as:
- Martial arts (kickboxing, etc)
What Are The Symptoms Of Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenail symptoms are fairly noticeable in all of its stages. Early on, you might notice symptoms like:
- Pain when any kind of pressure is applied on the toe or the foot in general
- Pus like fluid building up around the toe (especially the corners)
- Skin next the toenail becoming unusually soft, hard or even swollen
In case of an ingrown toenail infection, you may have symptoms such as:
- Overgrown skin around the toenail
- Swollen skin around the toenail which is often red
- Sharp pain around the toenail
- Bleeding and/or oozing pus
Be sure to get medical attention as soon as possible in such cases to avoid further complications.
What Complications Can Ingrown Toenails Cause?
If left unchecked and untreated, an ingrown toenail infection can cause infection in the bone in your toe. An ingrown toenail infection can also cause open sores, loss of blood flow to the infected area, etc. Even the tissue in the affected area can get decayed completely.
For people with diabetes, even a small cut, graze, or an ingrown toenail might quickly become infected due low blood flow and sensitive nerves.
As for people with hereditary ingrown toenails, multiple treatments and recurring pain can be a hassle. Your doctor may recommend that you opt for proper surgical treatment as well.
At-Home Ingrown Toenail Treatment
If there’s only the early-stage ingrown toenail infection, then a few home remedies and treatments can help, such as:
- Soaking your feet in warm water for about 15 minutes, a few times a day (Note: Try to keep your feet and footwear dry in general apart from during treatment.)
- Taking over-the-counter meds, like Tylenol
- Applying antibiotic creams over the affected area
These are your average at-home ingrown toenail remedies. If you notice the symptoms persisting and maybe even getting worse, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Medical Treatment For Ingrown Toenails
The medical treatment for worsening ingrown toenail symptoms or ingrown toenail infection includes two surgical methods:
- Partial Nail Removal: In this surgical method, the doctor numbs the toe and then narrows the toenail from the sides. It is said to be 98% effective in the prevention of future ingrown toenail related issues.
- Total Nail Removal: This surgical method is said to be used when the ingrown nail is caused by thickening. The doctor administers a local pain injection removes the entire nail; this procedure is called matrixectomy, which is basically removing the toenail from the nail matrix under your skin.
After surgery, your doctor will bandage your toe and have you on your way home. You’ll probably need to keep your foot raised for the next day or two until your next visit to the doctor for the bandage removal. Be sure to avoid wearing closed footwear of any kind and wear special footwear instead to let your toe heal properly.
Once your bandage is off, you’ll be given prescription pain meds and daily salt water soaks,
In case of partial nail removal, the toenail might take a few months to grow back. If total nail removal surgery has been performed, then a nail can take up to a year to grow back.
How Do I Prevent Ingrown Toenails?
Prevention is better than cure. Here are a few ways to prevent ingrown toenails:
- Trim your toenails straight across and make sure the corners do not curve inwards
- Wear proper fitting footwear
- Avoid cutting your toenails too short
If you already have genetically curved toenails, you may need surgery to prevent ingrown toenails.