An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that occurs when the corner of a toenail, usually the big toe, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, this can cause pain and swelling in the affected area. If you are a healthy individual you can often treat the ingrown toenail with simple at-home care; however, patients with diabetes, nerve damage in the feet or signs of a foot infection should always see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
There are several factors that could increase your risk for developing an ingrown toenail. These include:
- Heredity: if your family has a history of ingrown toenails you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Poorly fitted shoes: shoes that are too tight and cramp up the toes can also cause painful ingrown toenails, particularly in teens whose feet are still growing rapidly
- Improper nail trimming: if you cut your nails too short or if you cut them at an angle rather than cutting them straight across you could be leaving yourself prone to an ingrown toenail
- Injury to the toe: jamming or stubbing the toe can also increase the risk of an ingrown toenail (this is most common in athletes)
Treating an Ingrown Toenail
If there are no signs of an infection (e.g. foul odor; skin that’s hot to the touch) and you are otherwise healthy then you can probably treat the ingrown toenail all by yourself from the comfort of your home. Take frequent Epsom salt soaks and apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. Again, if there is no infection you can soak nails for several minutes so that they soften, and then gently clip away the affected area of the nail.
If you are experiencing signs of an infected ingrown toenail or if you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail it’s important that you seek a podiatrist’s care right away. A podiatrist can treat the infection while also removing part of or the entire nail so that it grows in properly.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
While there are certain factors such as heredity that cannot be helped, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce your risk for ingrown toenails. For one, always make sure that you wear properly fitted shoes that do not put pressure on the toes.
Secondly and most importantly, you need to know how to properly trim your toenails. Nails should be level with the tips of your toes. If nails are cut too short or if you trim your nails so they are curved at the edges rather than straight then an ingrown toenail is more likely to develop as the nail grows out.
Athletes should also make sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear for their chosen sport. Not all tennis shoes are created equally so if you have any questions about the footwear that you should wear, don’t hesitate to speak with your foot doctor.
Toenail fungus is a common problem that can be rather challenging to get rid of. While toenail fungus can happen to anyone it most often occurs in older adults. If you are noticing that one of your toenails has thickened, become brittle and turned yellow then chances are good that you are dealing with a toenail fungus.
What causes a fungal infection in the toenail?
A toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is the result of a fungal known as a dermatophyte. While less common, molds and yeasts can also infect the toenails. The reason older adults are more prone to fungal nail infections is because nails dry out as we age, which leads to cracks within the nail. These cracks make it easier for a fungal infection to get inside the nail.
Fungal is all around us. They are more often found in warm, dark, and damp places such as communal locker rooms and showers, gyms, and local swimming pools. It’s also possible to get a toenail fungus from a nail salon so it’s important to know the hygiene and sterilization practices of your local nail salon to make sure that you aren’t at risk for developing a fungal infection.
Treating Toenail Fungus
The good news it that healthy individuals may be able to tackle their toenail fungus on their own with over-the-counter medication. If you don’t have a weak immune system, diabetes or circulation problems then you may choose to try at-home treatments first before turning to a doctor. Those with circulation disorders or diabetes should see their podiatrist right away for treatment if they notice symptoms of a fungal infection. Not seeking treatment could greatly increase a person’s risk for bacterial infections and other potentially serious complications.
There are many over-the-counter products available to treat fungal infections. You will want to find a treatment that is geared specifically to treating fungal infections of the nail. Talk with your local pharmacist to find out the best treatment option. Over-the-counter antifungal medications often come in the form of a cream, ointment or nail polish that you will need to apply regularly for several weeks. If these medications don’t work then it’s time to talk with your foot doctor.
A foot doctor offers a variety of effective strategies for getting rid of toenail fungal infections. The most common treatment option is an oral antifungal medication that works systemically to kill the fungus. This medication is taken for several weeks but you won’t actually see results until the nail grows out clear, which can take up to four months or longer.
Other treatment options include:
- Medicated nail polish
- Laser fungal treatment
- Nail removal surgery (in rare cases)
If you are dealing with a pesky nail fungus then turn to your podiatrist to discover the best strategies for getting rid of this infection as quickly as possible.
Our feet go through a lot each day: walking, standing, and maybe even being stuffed into shoes that are a bit too narrow or high in the heel. Consequently, these daily stresses can cause a myriad of potentially painful conditions. Fortunately, most are both treatable and preventable.
Ingrown toenails are one of the most common of these foot conditions, and here at Salt Lake Podiatry Center in Salt Lake City, UT, our podiatrists, Daniel L. Preece and Darren F. Groberg, have the expertise to help you conquer this problem.
What is an ingrown toenail?
Ingrown toenails are nails that have become embedded in the skin along the sides of the nail, creating redness, swelling, and soreness. If untreated, ingrown toenails can cause cuts or sores that may lead to infection and discharge.
How do I treat an ingrown toenail?
Depending on the severity, you may be able to make some progress in treating an ingrown toenail on your own. Soaking the toe in warm water and applying an antibiotic ointment may prove helpful, and an over-the-counter pain reliever may reduce swelling.
At our Salt Lake City office, we can help identify the treatment best for you if the above tips don't prove successful. For instance, our specialists can remove a portion of the nail to ease the pain it is causing. An anesthetic will be applied to keep you comfortable during the procedure, and you may be prescribed an oral antibiotic if you have an infection.
To help ensure your ingrown toenails don't come back, make sure that you cut your toenails straight across, leaving some of the white tip showing to ensure that you aren't cutting them too short. Wear socks, and choose shoes that are supportive, wide-enough to properly accommodate your feet, and sized to fit comfortably. Choose supportive footwear for activities like running, and avoid wearing pointy-toed or high shoes for extended periods of time. Additionally, you can ask the podiatrists at our Salt Lake City office about inserts for your shoes if necessary.
Interested? Give us a call
Let us help you get back on your feet and feeling great! To contact Salt Lake Podiatry Center, dial 801-532-1822 today.
Know how to prevent and treat skin sores right away to prevent complications.
Foot complications are a common occurrence in those with diabetes, which is why it’s so important to get your diabetes properly controlled. From the office of our Salt Lake City, UT, podiatrists, Dr. Daniel Preece and Dr. Darren Groberg, find out more about proper care for your feet and what to do if you develop an ulcer or other foot condition.
Caring for Diabetic Feet
If you want to care for your diabetic feet and prevent complications here are some tips to follow,
Make sure to get your blood sugar levels under control: This is, by far, the most important thing you can do to prevent other health issues from happening as a result of your diabetes. Finding the right medication may take time so it’s important to work with and communicate with your doctor when medications may or may not be working properly. You should also be monitoring your blood sugar every day.
Examine your feet daily: It’s important that you recognize the earliest warning signs of an ulcer or other foot conditions so that you can seek immediate treatment from your Salt Lake City foot doctor before complications set in. Even minor issues such as cuts, blisters and cracks could lead to an infection. Use a mirror and examine all areas of your feet including the soles and between the toes.
Ditch the cigarettes: If you have diabetes and you are a smoker it’s important that you quit smoking for good: By quitting smoking you can significantly reduce circulation issues and improve blood flow to areas of the feet. Need help quitting? Talk to your doctor about your options.
Visit your podiatrist for regular checkups: Just as you see your doctor regularly you should also take time to make sure that your feet are properly cared for. People with diabetes should visit a foot specialist at least once a year for a thorough examination.
Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists in Salt Lake City wants to provide you with the comprehensive and immediate care you need if you are dealing with diabetic foot problems. Call our office today at (801) 532-1822.
While heel pain is a common problem this doesn’t mean that it should just be brushed aside or considered a small matter. Untreated heel pain can lead to long-term pain and other problems. While there are many causes of heel pain the most common cause is plantar fasciitis. This condition causes irritation and inflammation within the thick band of tissue (known as the plantar fascia) that runs along the soles of the feet from the toes to the heel.
The telltale sign of plantar fasciitis is that the heel pain occurs under the heel beneath the heel bone. The pain may radiate to the arches of the feet because the plantar fascia provides support to the arches, as well. Heel pain may be worse first thing in the morning or after long bouts of inactivity. You may notice that your heel pain gets better with movement and exercise but gets worse immediately after.
Many people can treat plantar fasciitis effectively with at-home care; however, if your symptoms are severe, become worse or aren’t responding to conservative home treatments after five days then it’s time to see your podiatrist. A podiatrist will be able to provide you with answers as to what is causing your heel pain and how to best treat it.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Simple, conservative measures are usually all that’s needed to treat heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. This includes:
- Resting and avoiding exercise and high-impact activities that will make symptoms worse
- Icing the heel and arches of the feet up to 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day
- Wearing supportive shoes with a low heel
- Placing custom orthotics within shoes for additional support
- Performing specific foot stretching and strengthening exercises
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling
- Wearing a night splint to reduce morning pain and stiffness
Your foot doctor can show you a variety of exercises to perform that can alleviate heel pain and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis. A podiatrist can also make prescription shoe inserts to provide your feet with the proper cushioning and structural support they need to reduce pressure points and improve the biomechanics of your feet.
Those with severe and persistent heel pain may require more aggressive treatment options such as ultrasound, steroid injections or shockwave therapy. Chronic plantar fasciitis may even require surgery to get rid of inflammation and tension within the plantar fascia. Surgery is rare but may be necessary when other treatment options have failed to properly manage and treat symptoms.
If you are dealing with heel pain for the first time it’s a good idea to see a podiatrist who can determine the cause of your pain and provide you with a customized treatment plan to get your heel pain under control.
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