Ingrown toenail

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Individuals who trim their toenails very short especially the sides of the big toes are likely to get an ingrown toenail. When trimming your toenails, it is important to taper the corners so that the nail will curve along with the shape of the toe. An ingrown toenail can also occur if shoes used are too tight or too short.

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail

If an ingrown starts to develop, it can be tender, hard and swollen. Later on, it will become red in color and gets infected. Any toenail can get an ingrown, but it typically affects the big toes. Once the skin on a single or two sides of a particular toenail covers the edges or the nail pierces into the skin, the ingrown has developed. In some cases, a minimal amount of pus drains from the affected area.

ingrown toenail
An ingrown toenail causes pain and swelling.

In some, it is congenital in which the nail is too big for the toe. Even trauma where the toe was stepped on or struck on a hard object can cause an ingrown toenail.

How to treat an ingrown toenail

An ingrown can be remedied by non-surgical and surgical treatments. Always remember that if the condition is starting to develop, it must be treated right away. If it is discovered early before infection takes place, simple first aid measures at home can prevent the need for further treatment.

Non-surgical treatment

  • You have to soak the foot in warm water 3-4 times a day.
  • Instruct the individual to keep the foot dry all the time.
  • Over-the-counter medications for pain such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain relief.
  • Use comfortable shoes that have enough room for the toes. It is best to wear sandals that are open until the condition fully heals.
  • In case there is no improvement in 2-3 days or the condition worsens, you have to call your doctor.

In some cases, you must lift gently the edge of the affected toenail from the embedded position and insert waxed dental floor or cotton between the skin and nail. Make sure that this is changed every day.

Surgical treatment

In case of severe inflammation, discharge and pain, the toenail is probably infected and must be treated by a doctor. Oral antibiotics are prescribed and the nail can be partially or completely removed. This is done through the surgical removal of a part of the nail, some of the surrounding soft tissues, part of the underlying nail bed or even a portion of the growth area.

The best way to prevent an ingrown toenail is to prevent any trauma to the feet and choose shoes that have enough room for the toes. When cutting the nails, it must be straight across using a clean nail trimmer without rounding the nail corners. Always keep the feet clean and dry at all times.

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