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Palm Beach Podiatry

Ingrown Toenails: More Than an Annoyance

It’s easy not to give a lot of attention to your toenails. They aren’t terribly functional and spend a lot of time hidden beneath socks and shoes. There are occasions when they receive the limelight by being painted or treated to a pedicure, but toenails generally aren’t given a second thought until something goes wrong, like when you develop ingrown toenails.

Recognizing an Ingrown Nail

This is a common condition often caused by injuring a toenail, having unusually curved nails, wearing footwear that crowds your toes, or clipping your toenails in an improper fashion. In some cases, a condition like fungal infection can cause a nail to become ingrown.

Ingrown toenails are relatively easy to identify. If you experience pain and tenderness, swelling, and redness around a nail, there is a high likelihood that it is ingrown. In severe cases, you may note an infection in tissue around the affected toenail.

Diabetes and Ingrown Nails

If you live with diabetes, you should already understand the importance of foot care when it comes to managing the disease. Part of responsible foot care includes keeping your nails trimmed properly. This means clipping them straight across and at the proper length. Failure to do so can lead to an infection that could become quite serious, including gangrene (death of tissue).

Preventative Measures

Even if you do not live with a condition like diabetes, you are still better off avoiding the pain and discomfort that accompany an ingrown toenail. There are several measures you can take that will decrease your risk for this condition, including:

  • Clip your nails straight across. It can be tempting to round off your nails so they match the shape of your toe, but this leads to risk when the nail grows out. Instead, trim them straight.

  • Maintain proper nail length. When your toenails are too short, they can be directed to grow into your skin by pressure from your shoes.

  • Choose footwear that fits correctly. Socks and shoes that are too short or tight can lead to ingrown toenails.

  • Protect your feet. One of the causes of ingrown nails is having something heavy dropped onto them. If you work in an environment where this is a possibility, choose steel-toed footwear or other types of protective shoes.

  • Check your nails. Individuals living with diabetes should perform a daily foot check, but it is especially important to remain vigilant for early signs of ingrown nails. If you discover anything of concern, schedule the earliest possible appointment with Palm Beach Podiatry so we can address the issue for you before it becomes a major problem.

Treating an Ingrown Nail

Perhaps you didn’t take preventative steps or an inherited foot structure has led to an ingrown nail. At this point, it is important to understand treatment options for the condition. You can use the following plan at home:

  1. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in warm water three or four times a day. This will relieve tenderness and reduce swelling.

  2. After each soak, place fresh waxed dental floss or bits of cotton under the ingrown edge to help the nail grow properly above the skin.

  3. Apply antibiotic ointment or cream on the affected area and then bandage your toe.

After following those steps, be sure to choose sensible footwear, like sandals or open-toed shoes, until your toe is better. If you need to reduce the pain, give us a call to find out which over-the-counter pain relievers we recommend for you.

Should you develop severe pain, pus, or redness that spreads, give our office a call and set up an appointment with us as soon as you can. As previously mentioned, if you have diabetes and note this condition, contact us immediately as well.

Ingrown toenails are a fairly common condition we see at Palm Beach Podiatry. When you need treatment for this issue, or any other foot or ankle problem you experience, contact us to schedule an appointment. We have offices conveniently located in Boynton Beach, Loxahatchee, and Fort Pierce, FL. Call us at these numbers:

(561) 734-3100 for our Boynton Beach office

(561) 791-7773 for our Loxahatchee office

(772) 468-0089 for our Fort Pierce office