An ingrown toenail is one of the most common causes of toe pain, and it can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, whenever people seek medical care for a foot problem, an ingrown toenail is the culprit about 20% of the time.
But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. If you don’t take care of it, your ingrown toenail can lead to serious tissue damage and even bone infection.
To prevent those problems, it’s best to seek medical care from professionals who know your feet like the backs of their hands. If you live in the greater Salt Lake City, Utah, area, turn to Dan Preece, DPM, and Darren Groberg, DPM, for expert treatment of ingrown toenails and a wide range of other foot and ankle issues.
We not only offer effective treatments to stop your pain and heal your toe, we also have some practical tips that can help you avoid getting ingrown toenails in the future. Here’s what you need to know.
Some people never experience an ingrown toenail; others get them repeatedly. Here are a few of the conditions that may make you more vulnerable.
If you have diabetes, you likely have at least two of the risk factors — poor circulation and nerve damage. The good news is that we offer diabetic foot care specifically to monitor your foot health, which is always at risk for those with diabetes.
Ingrown toenails occur when the corner or side of your toenail takes a detour and grows downward into your skin rather than staying above the surface. It’s most common on the big toe, but no toe is exempt.
Here are a few practical tips to help you sidestep an ingrown toenail:
Before you trim your toenails, soak them in warm water to soften them. Toenails are especially tough, which makes trimming them a challenge. Try cutting them immediately after a bath or shower for better control.
Toenails take advantage of breaches in your skin, so if you have an infection near your toenail, the nail may take the path of least resistance and grow inward. Keeping your clippers and files clean and bacteria-free can help you avoid skin infections.
Unlike the rounded corners of your fingernails, your toenails need a straight trim to ensure they grow straight ahead.
If your toenails are getting long or you’ve broken one, resist the urge to rip the nail. Wait until you can use proper trimmers that leave a clean edge. Jagged nails can easily wiggle their way under your skin.
Toenail trimmers are bigger and stronger than fingernail trimmers, and they allow you to make a straight, clean cut that gives you the best shot at avoiding an ingrown toenail.
An acute toe injury can lead to an ingrown toenail, but so can repetitive stress on your toe. If you play soccer, for example, the constant force on your toes from kicking the ball can lead to an ingrown toenail, so make sure you wear the right gear.
One of the main causes of ingrown toenails is wearing tight shoes and socks. Your toes need room to wiggle and breathe — if they’re crammed into narrow shoes, your toenails have nowhere to grow but inward.
If you get an ingrown toenail, you may be able to resolve it on your own at home. Soak your foot in warm water and Epsom salts a couple times a day and gently lift the nail while it and your skin are soft and pliable. Wedge a soft piece of cotton or dental floss under the nail and coax it out a little more each day. If the skin is broken, dab on some antibiotic ointment to keep infection at bay.
If you don’t see any progress in the next couple of days, or if you see worsening symptoms, such as oozing pus, bleeding, extreme swelling, or redness, come see Drs. Preece and Groberg for expert care.
We may be able to clear the infection with antibiotics, or you may need a partial nail plate avulsion, where we remove part of the toenail in a minor surgical procedure.
To get help for your ingrown toenail, schedule an appointment today by calling our office or booking online.