Swelling, reddened flesh, shooting pain, and pus are just some of the incredibly uncomfortable symptoms of having an ingrown toenail. Although this condition can sometimes be successfully treated through home remedies, ingrown toenails often progress to the point of infection, a point that then requires professional treatment. Read on to learn what causes this problem, when it’s right to seek medical help, and how our podiatrists can help get your foot back to a healthy state!
The Causes and Symptoms
Before we cover how to treat ingrown toenails, let’s first review the core causes and symptoms that hallmark this condition…
Ingrown toenails initially develop due to a few different factors, including:
- Cutting the toenail too short
- Rounding the toenail during grooming
- Wearing improperly fitting shoes
- Experiencing toe trauma
If the flesh on the side of the toe has become red, swollen, and tender, you likely have an ingrown toenail. If you have caught this problem while it’s still in its early stages, you can try implementing some of the home remedies listed in the next section. However, if your toe is exhibiting some of the following signs of infection, you should seek professional podiatric help:
- Pervasive shooting or throbbing toe pain
- Regular bleeding
- The presence of a pus-filled blister
- The skin has started growing over the nail
As mentioned above, if an ingrown toenail is caught before infection sets in, there are a few different methods that you can practice at home in order to clear up the issue. Some of these include:
- Around 3 to 4 times a day, submerge your foot into warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Regularly doing this should reduce swelling and provide pain relief.
- Following each soaking, use cotton to separate the ingrown toenail from the flesh that it is starting to grow under. This should allow the nail to grow above the skin again.
- Avoid snug or constraining shoes.
If these actions fail to clear up the problem in 2 to 3 days, you should pursue professional treatment.
In the case of a severe or recurring infection, there are a few different procedures that your podiatrist can perform to make your toe healthy again. Depending on the specifics of your ingrown toenail, one of the following treatments may be recommended:
- Partial Nail Removal: In the case of a severe ingrown toenail, your doctor can numb your toe before physically removing the ingrown portion of the nail.
- Nail and Tissue Removal: If the same toe is repeatedly experiencing the same ingrown toenail problem, this procedure can be performed to prevent future recurrences. It entails your podiatrist removing a portion of the underlying nail bed, thus preventing the nail from become ingrown again.
Concerned About Your Toe? Give Us a Call!
If your ingrown toenail needs medical attention, call our podiatric office today!
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel pain
- Ankle sprains and fractures
- Foot fractures
- Sports-related injuries
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Corns and calluses
- Diabetic foot care
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Heel spurs
An unexpected fall or twist can result in an injury of the foot or ankle, such as a sprain or strain. Immediate first aid can help prevent complications, reduce pain and improve recovery.
Rest, ice, compression and elevation--commonly referred to as R.I.C.E.--is the first and best treatment for minor injuries. The following tips can aid in the early treatment of common foot and ankle injuries to help reduce swelling and control the inflammatory process during the initial phase of injury.
Rest: Whether you have a strain or a sprain, rest from any physical activity is essential to protecting your injured ligaments, tendons or muscles from further damage while your body starts the repair process. Avoid putting weight on the injured foot or ankle as much as possible. In some cases, complete immobilization may be required.
Ice: Gently ice your foot or ankle with ice wrapped in a towel in a 20-minute-on, 40-minute-off cycle for the first few days post-injury. Ice is excellent at reducing inflammation and pain.
Compression: Applying some type of compressive wrap or bandage to an injured area can greatly reduce the amount of initial swelling.
Elevation: Prop your foot up while lying down or sitting so that it is higher than or equal to the level of the heart.
After a few days of R.I.C.E., many acute injuries will begin to heal. If pain or swelling does not subside after a few days, or if you are unsure of the severity of your injury, make an appointment with your podiatrist. A skilled podiatrist can properly diagnose your injury and recommend the best course of treatment.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony prominence that develops on the joint at the base of your big toe. As the big toe joint becomes enlarged, it forces the toe to crowd against your other toes, and the pressure exerted on your big toe joint results in inflammation and pain. Early treatment is necessary to decrease the risk of developing joint deformities.
Bunions develop due to prolonged abnormal pressure or motion on your big toe joint, most often caused by inherited structural defects, poor-fitting shoes, foot injuries, or congenital deformities. Women are generally more prone to bunions because of the shoe types typically worn, such as high-heels and narrow-toed shoes.
Bunion pain can range from mild to severe, often making it difficult to wear shoes and perform normal activities. You should contact our office if you notice the following symptoms:
- An enlarged, visible bulge on your big toe joint
- Restricted movement of your big toe or foot that prevents you from performing normal activities
- Irritation, corns or calluses caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
- Frequent pain, swelling or redness around your big toe joint
Treatment For a Bunion
Treatment for a bunion will vary depending on its severity. Identifying the condition in its early stages is important to avoid surgery, with the main objective of early treatment is to relieve pressure and stop the progression of the deformity. Many times conservative treatments, such as padding, modified footwear or orthotic devices can be highly effective for preventing further growth and reducing the pressure and pain.
We recommend the following for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions:
- Wear comfortable shoes that don't cramp or irritate your toes and avoid high-heeled shoes
- Apply ice to reduce inflammation and pain
- Our podiatrists can show you how to apply padding to your foot to place it in its normal position and reduce stress on the bunion
When early treatments fail or the persistent pain associated with your bunion is interfering with your daily activities, a surgical procedure may be recommended as a last resort to realign the toe joint and alleviate the pressure. We can advise you on the best treatment options available to relieve pressure on the bunion and slow the progression of the joint deformity.
Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist
- Wear shoes that fit well
- Wear proper shoes for each activity
- Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
- Prepare properly before exercising by stretching and warming up
- Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities
- Don’t underestimate your body’s need for rest and good nutrition
- Lose excess weight
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