Ingrown toenails are a common problem, especially among those that wear tight or ill-fitting shoes. Knowing when you can wait for the problem to self-correct and when to see a podiatrist can save you a lot of stress and pain when it comes to your feet.
At North Central Texas Foot & Ankle, we provide treatment and follow-up care for ingrown toenails. We can also educate you on how to prevent future problems with your toenails.
What are ingrown toenails, and what causes them?
When the front edge or side of a toenail digs painfully into the outer edges of your nail bed (the grooves your nail grows from), the nail is considered ingrown. Healthy toenails, on the other hand, grow straight out from the nail grooves.
An ingrown toenail is one of the most common nail issues. In fact, over 40 million Americans have experienced an ingrown toenail at some point in their lives. It can develop from a number of factors, including:
- Trimming your toenails improperly
- Tight or ill-fitting shoes that pinch your toes
- Hereditary growing patterns
- Trauma to the toenail (dropping items on feet, falling down, etc.)
Ingrowing can occur on one or both sides of the toenail, and the big toe is usually the one affected. However, any toenail can grow inward, so you should make sure to care for all of your toes individually.
What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?
The initial symptoms of an ingrown toenail are typically mild. You may experience a twinge of discomfort when you touch the affected nail, wiggle your toes, or squeeze into your favorite shoes.
As the issue worsens, you might experience additional symptoms, including:
- Redness and swelling
- A dull, throbbing pain that occurs even when you’re not touching the area
- Signs of infection (weeping, pus, etc.)
When is a visit to the podiatrist necessary?
If you have diabetes or another medical condition that reduces circulation in your feet, you’re more prone to developing infections. In such cases, we recommend you come in for a visit as soon as you notice an ingrown toenail.
Otherwise, we suggest you make an appointment whenever an ingrown toenail begins causing pain. Redness, swelling, and signs of infection should also warrant a trip to the podiatrist. Even healthy people can become prone to infections if an ingrown toenail is left untreated.
How can ingrown toenails be prevented?
There are several things you can do to lessen the likelihood of ingrown toenails, including:
- Clip your toenails straight across to encourage a straight-out growing pattern.
- Check your feet for ingrowing toenails (diabetics should check their feet daily).
- Avoid letting your toenails become too long, and make sure to cut them at a reasonable length.
- Wear shoes with a roomy toe to prevent crowding.
Ingrown toenails should be treated as soon as they become a noticeable problem. If you’re suffering from a painful ingrown toenail, grinning and bearing it is the last thing you want to do.
You can schedule a visit with North Central Texas Foot & Ankle by calling the location closest to you or contacting us online.