Ingrown toenails are a common affliction affecting many Americans of all ages. These may become significantly painful with frequent infections resulting. It is important these are addressed by a physician at the onset of symptoms. Attempts at home remedies or nail removal should not be made as these frequently result in infection.
There are a myriad of causes of ingrown toenails including a genetic predisposition, inappropriate shoe gear, poor hygiene, and improper nail trimming.
There are several treatment options available for ingrown toenails. The first and most conservative is careful trimming of the corner of the nail called a slant back debridement. This may be somewhat uncomfortable as local anesthesia is typically not utilized. The purpose of this procedure is to remove the corner of the ingrown toenail. This may provide some relief. However, it is typically a temporary measure as the nails are prone to growing back in once again.
Another option for treatment is a procedure called partial onychoplasty where just the affected edge of the nail is removed and the root of the nail in that corner is treated with a chemical so that the portion of the nail that was ingrown will not grow back.
This is an in office procedure taking less than 15 minutes, with the patient resuming normal activity usually within 24 hours after surgery. Postoperative care is soaking the surgical area twice daily and applying a topical antibiotic preparation, and covering the area with a band-aid. Occasionally an oral antibiotic may be required for a severe infection.
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Ingrown toenails, where the toenail begins to grow into the skin surrounding it, often begin asnothing but a nuisance. Unfortunately, they can lead to infection if not properly treated. If you take good care of your ingrown toenail at home, however, you may be able to prevent your condition from worsening.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenails are common, and can be caused by everything from trauma to genetic factors. One common risk factor is easily controlled for have you ever heard that you should cut your toenails straight across, not at an angle? However nice a rounded edge might look for sandal season, cutting your toenail in this way can encourage your nail to grow into the flesh of your toe.
Symptoms and Treatment
Ingrown toenails are characterized by pain, swelling, redness and a feeling of warmth in the affected toe. If the nail digs into the flesh around the nail and causes the skin to break, bacteria can enter, resulting in an infection. The infection can increase the level of pain in the toe and create additional problems.
As long as an infection has not yet set in, caring for an infected toenail is straightforward. You may take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory for the pain. You can also soak your foot a few times a day, keeping it otherwise nice and dry, and wear comfortable shoes that aren’t too narrow. Of course, if you have a preexisting condition, such as diabetes, you should see your podiatrist at the first sign of an ingrown toenail. Whatever you do, do not attempt to cut the nail free your own! This can worsen the infection, or create one where there wasn’t one before.
If your ingrown toenail doesn’t improve within a few days, make an appointment with your trusted podiatrist. We may prescribe antibiotics may be prescribed to manage the infection, and outpatient surgery may be necessary to remove the nail.