How to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail

by | Mar 17, 2023

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 20% of people who see their doctor due to foot pain are diagnosed with an ingrown toenail. Most often affecting the nail on the big toe, ingrown toenails are particularly common in adolescents. However, anyone can develop an ingrown nail. Although some people successfully treat an ingrown toenail at home, in other cases the nail may need to be treated by a podiatric specialist.

Read on for everything to know about symptoms, causes, and treatments for painful or infected toenails.

ingrown toenail

What is an Ingrown Toenail?

A toenail that grows into the skin beside it is called an ingrown toenail. Most of the time, they result from genetics, but local trauma and rarely shoe issues can contribute as well. People who suffer from diabetes or other circulatory problems are also at increased risk of ingrown nails. 

You may suspect you’ve developed an ingrown nail if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Tenderness or pain near the nail

  • Hardened skin near the nail

  • Inflammation near the nail

  • Warm sensation in the toe

  • Bleeding

  • Oozing

  • Skin overgrowth around the toe

What Can I Do to Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

Most of the time, it’s not your fault; its just something that you are predisposed to.  You can try to wear shoes with a bigger toe box, but if they are bothersome you should get them checked out. If you suspect you’re developing an ingrown nail, you may be able to reverse the condition by soaking your feet in warm water several times a day.  Then, ensure the foot stays dry, and that any shoes, socks, or stockings you wear are large enough to prevent pressure on the nail. Any mild pain and swelling may be alleviated with an over-the-counter pain medication (Tylenol) or anti-inflammatory medication (Ibuprofen).

If at-home treatments do not help, or if an infection has set in, it’s important to see a podiatrist for treatment. 

ingrown toenail

How Podiatrists Treat Ingrown Nails on the Toes

If you’re experiencing ongoing pain, swelling, or redness, or if the nail appears infected, there are several treatments your podiatrist may provide.

  1. The nail may be partially lifted
  2. The nail may be trimmed
  3. A portion of the toenail may need to be removed
  4. The entire nail may need to be removed.

The nail will only be removed if all other treatment options fail, or if the toe and nail have become infected. Surgery is always the last resort and is typically only necessary if you have chronic ingrown nails that become easily infected.

When to See a Podiatrist for a Nail Problem

If your nail and the skin around it do not respond to conservative treatments at home, book an appointment at Eugene Foot & Ankle Podiatric Physicians & Surgeons today by calling 541-683-3351, or sending us a message to book your appointment today.

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