It’s a fact that if you have toenails, you can develop an ingrown nail at any point during your life. Some babies are born with a toenail that’s ingrown—which may be attributed to foot position in the womb—and this nail condition affects many seniors as well.
Find Relief from Ingrown Toenail Pain
An ingrown toenail causes pain, discomfort, and also places you at risk for potential infection. When the ingrown edge pierces the skin, it creates an opening that can allow microorganisms—bacteria, viruses, fungi—to enter the body. Infections from these organisms are bad enough for otherwise healthy individuals, but can be downright dangerous when there are existing medical conditions, like diabetes, that compromise the immune system.
When peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) coexists with diabetes, it is possible to not even feel that a nail has become ingrown (which highlights the importance of a daily foot inspection). This can be a concern, as the infection risk is greater for diabetic individuals.
Of course, the pain or discomfort is likely going to be the reason you want to have the condition resolved. The good news is that there are many ways to find relief from painful symptoms.
Conservative Care for Ingrown Toenails
Dr. Corey Fox will start your ingrown toenail treatment by assessing your particular case. This will determine the best course of action. Factors like severity and cause—along with other considerations (like if you have diabetes or the condition is recurrent)—point to the direction of an appropriate treatment plan.
If you have a mild case, and especially if you are catching the problem at an early stage, home care may be helpful. This entails soaking the appropriate foot to soften the nail, and then carefully lifting the ingrown edge. Place a bit of clean, waxed dental floss under the edge, to encourage the nail to grow above the skin. You can lower infection risk by using antibiotic cream or ointment and a fresh bandage.
It needs to be noted that we do not recommend attempting to treat an ingrown toenail on your own if you are diabetic. In this case, come see us as soon as possible.
You can also come to Massapequa Podiatry Associates for professional care if you are reluctant to try dealing with the problem on your own, or your attempts have been unsuccessful. If the condition is caught at an early stage—and there aren’t any signs of infection or severe pain—we can trim the toenail and keep it at a comfortable position for you.
To relieve pain caused by an ingrown nail, Dr. Fox may prescribe or recommend medication, which can include over-the-counter options like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. Be sure to check with our office if you have any questions or concerns about this. We can also let you know if you are taking an appropriate dose.
Permanent Nail Removal
Some cases require more than conservative treatment. In these instances—and especially if a toenail repeatedly becomes ingrown—Dr. Fox might recommend removing either a portion of the affected nail, or the entire toenail. When an entire toenail needs to be removed, it is usually best practice to make this a permanent condition. To do so, a chemical solution is used to destroy the nail matrix (the part of your toe that causes nail tissue to grow).
Now, we realize it might seem as though removing a toenail is painful, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Keep in mind that anesthesia is used before the procedure to numb the area.
How to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail
The best form of treatment is always to take measures and prevent a problem from developing in the first place. With regard to ingrown toenail prevention, the following practices can lower your risk:
- Always wear shoes that fit properly. There should be about a thumb’s width of space between the front of the shoe and your longest toe, and you should be able to wiggle your toes freely. If these aren’t applying to the shoes you’re wearing, pick another pair.
- Protect your feet. If you need to move heavy objects on a frequent basis for your job, be sure to protect your feet with (well-fitting!) steel-toed work boots or safety shoes.
- Clip your toenails the right way. Too often, toenails that are clipped too short and rounded off become ingrown. Make sure you trim your nails straight across and keep them roughly even with the edge of your toes.
Whereas ingrown toenail treatment is a service provided by our team here at Massapequa Podiatry Associates, it’s certainly not the only one. In fact, we provide comprehensive treatment and professionals services to address a wide range of foot and ankle issues. If you are suffering from pain or impaired function, contact us and find out what we can do to help you. Give us a call at (516) 541-9000 or connect with us online right now.