Our staff at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida treats problems like ingrown toenails on a daily basis. We can recommend some useful tips to help you reduce the risk of developing this issue in the first place. Let’s take a look at this common complaint so you can understand what an ingrown toenail is, how it develops, what can be done about it, and what you can do to lower the odds of it coming back!
Ingrown Toenail Symptoms
In this condition, the corner or side of a nail has grown into the skin surrounding it. This results in various symptoms like swelling, redness, pain, and infection. Any toenail can become ingrown, but the condition is most likely to happen to the nail of the big toe. If you observe redness spreading from the area, the development of pus, or severe pain, contact our office for an appointment. We will provide the professional treatment needed to relieve your symptoms and take care of any infection.
Causes of Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown nails have several common causes, such as:
- Incorrect Nail Trimming Practices – People who round off their toenails or trim them too short face a greater risk of developing an ingrown toenail than do individuals who clip them straight across and (approximately) even with the edge of the respective toes.
- Poorly-Fitting Footwear – Shoes that do not fit well can contribute to a host of lower limb issues, including an ingrown toenail. When footwear is too tight, they crowd the toes together and put pressure on the skin and nails.
- Physical Trauma – Dropping a heavy object onto your foot increases your risk of injuring the toe and developing an ingrown nail.
- Inherited Structure – Unusually-curved toenails are simply more likely to become ingrown than those featuring a “normal” shape.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment
Home care is the best place to start when treating ingrown toenails. The podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida suggest the following practices to see if they offer the relief you need:
- Soften the nail tissue by soaking your feet for 15-20 minutes in warm water. This step can reduce swelling and relieve tenderness in the area.
- After soaking the foot, gently lift back the nail edge that had become ingrown and place a fresh bit of waxed dental floss under it (so the nail grows over the skin and not into it).
- Liberally apply an antibiotic ointment or cream to the tender area to prevent infection. Bandage the affected toe.
When home management is not enough, professional treatment is required. Some options our doctors might use include lifting the ingrown nail, removing a section of the nail, and, for recurring cases, removing the affected nail and its matrix altogether.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Since preventative measures for addressing an ingrown toenail can often be done at home, prevention is always a good option. Prevention tips involve addressing the causes of ingrown toenails that we mentioned earlier, but we’ll remind you again:
- Proper Nail Clipping – Don’t cut the corners off or round them, and keep some of the white showing (instead of clipping them too short).
- Wear Properly-Fitting Footwear – When buying shoes, pick out styles that are not tight in the front (they should have enough room so toes can wiggle).
- Protect Your Feet – If your work requires you to move heavy items on a frequent basis, invest in a durable pair of safety shoes or steel-tipped work boots.
Professional Ingrown Toenail Care
As noted, you might be able to treat some ingrown toenail symptoms with home care. But there are times when you simply need professional treatment. If this describes your condition, request an appointment with Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida today. Our medical professionals can help you overcome painful conditions with your feet or ankles. Give us a call at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you are calling from Lake County) and we can provide further information and schedule your appointment. If you’d prefer, request an appointment online today at our Tavares, Lake Mary, Orlando, Kissimmee, or Altamonte Springs office.