An ingrown toenail refers to a condition where the nail of a toe grows into the skin surrounding the nailbed. People recognize this issue because the sharp nail digging into the flesh can cause pain, redness, and swelling. Because the toe seems to be a small and insignificant part of the body, you might feel tempted to dismiss this concern.
But untreated ingrown nails can lead to further complications that may leave you with lasting damage to your toes and feet. Persistent ingrown nails may need attention from a podiatrist. Read on to learn more about this toe concern and why you should not ignore a nail problem like this.
Will Ingrown Nails Go Away on Their Own?
In minor cases, an ingrown nail will continue growing and resolve itself. You should keep an eye on the problem, however, to make sure the nail does not grow deeper into the skin and worsen.
Ingrown nails commonly occur in the toes when you do not take proper care of your feet. Make sure you do not trim your nails too short or in a curved shape. This may lead to improper growth of the nail. Cut the toenails straight across, especially on the big toe, where ingrown nails can develop most frequently.
Why Do I Need Treatment for an Ingrown Nail?
You do not always need intervention from a foot doctor for an ingrown toenail. But you should call a podiatrist if you experience severe pain or if the issue does not resolve within a few weeks, or if the problem becomes recurring.
Extreme pain and the presence of inflammation or pus could point to an infection in the skin affected by this nail. If you allow this problem to continue, bacteria from the infection will spread, leaving you at risk for a number of medical risks.
The toe may eventually experience neuropathy or a numb sensation. The problem could lead to permanent damage and impairment of the toe. Do not hesitate to call your podiatrist for an evaluation if you are unsure about your symptoms.
What Treatment Will I Need for Ingrown Toenails?
Your foot doctor may recommend soaking the affected toe and foot in warm water with Epsom salt. This softens the skin and lowers the inflammation of an ingrown toenail. Then they will clip the toenail so that it no longer digs into the skin. They will apply an antibiotic ointment to the area to prevent infection.
An infected nail or toe may require removal of the nail’s edge in their office. The podiatrist might use a local anesthetic to numb the area for the patient’s comfort.
Patients with recurring ingrown toenails may need a targeted procedure called a matrixectomy. This involves removing the ingrown nail and applying a chemical to the nail and surrounding skin area to prevent it from growing back in a problematic fashion. Your doctor can tell you which treatment will work best when you schedule a consult.