Did you take one look at that headline and think, “I’d rather not know anything about ingrown toenails at all”? If so, chances are good you’ve never had one. Count yourself among the lucky, friend.
Those of us who have suffered from this frustrating condition at one time or another (or, more likely, many times) aren’t so fortunate. Even a minor ingrown toenail can be a persistent, painful, aggravating nuisance. The slightest pressure could send you reeling from stabbing pain.
And it just. Won’t. Go. Away!
Or will it? You see, ingrown toenails can be prevented, treated, and even cured with relatively little drama. But you have to know what you’re up against.
So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about ingrown toenails:
Pain Is the Least of Your Concerns
And pain is a pretty big concern! We’ve already mentioned how painful and sensitive ingrown toenails can be, and how long those symptoms can last without any kind of resolution. But the bigger fear is infection. This is especially true if you have diabetes, neuropathy, poor circulation, or are immunosuppressed.
Ingrown toenails create an easy “front door” for viruses, bacteria, and even fungal infections to invade. Fungi that get under the nail could lead to a long-term and embarrassing problem with discolored and deformed nails. More seriously, a bacterial infection could cause significant swelling, pus, and odor. If this infection spreads it can reach the bone, and even begin killing healthy cells. If you ignore your ingrown toenail long enough, we might even have to amputate it.
Some Ingrown Toenails Are Caused by Injury …
The circumstances of such an injury may be acute or chronic. For example, you might have stubbed your toe against a table leg, or dropped a heavy textbook on your foot—this would be acute causes.
More likely, though, you “injured” your toenail slowly over time by wearing shoes that were too tight for your toes. That constant day-in, day-out pressure on the corner of your nails can push them off course, digging where they don’t belong.
… Others Are Caused by Trimming …
You wouldn’t think it’d be possible to trim your toenails the wrong way. But you’d be wrong. In fact, maybe you’ve been doing it wrong your entire life!
Trimming your toenails too short is one of the leading causes of ingrown toenails. This is especially true if you choose to round the corners as you would your fingernails, rather than trimming straight across. When you cut too close to the skin, you may break the “seal” separating the nail plate from the surrounding skin. The skin may then be emboldened to fold over the nail.
… But Genetics Are Probably the Most Common Factor
If you keep getting ingrown toenails over and over again, we have some bad news for you: you’re probably an unlucky loser of the genetics lottery. Some people are simply prone to getting ingrown toenails over and over again, usually because they were born with extra-curvy toenails.
You Can Manage Mild Cases at Home …
If your ingrown toenail isn’t bothering you too much, you could try some good old-fashioned home therapy. Give yourself a nice foot soak in warm water with a little Epsom salt for about 20 minutes. Then gently lift the corner of the ingrown toenail and place a small bit of cotton underneath to separate the nail from the skin. Then, apply a little bit of antiseptic medication and bandage the toe. You can do this a couple of times per day.
… But Never, Under Any Circumstances, Perform “Bathroom Surgery.”
If you’ve been in pain for a long time, the temptation to just “cut it out” is a strong one. But bathroom surgery is about the worst choice you can make. The risk that you’ll make the problem even worse and cause a serious infection is far too high.
Fortunately, there is a much easier and safer path to relief.
We Can Fix Your Ingrown Toenail. For Good.
It isn’t even that difficult, won’t keep you from your activities for more than a day or two, and can be accomplished right from our office. There are two separate procedures here. The first fixes the immediate problem. The second, optional one keeps it from coming back.
First things first—we’ll gently cut out and remove the ingrown edge. This is done under local anesthetic, so it’s completely painless. By the time the anesthetic wears off, you’ll notice that your toe feels much, much better.
The second procedure, which we do generally recommend, will also remove part of the underlying nail matrix tissue using a chemical process. This stops the nail from growing back along that edge, preventing the ingrown toenail from returning for good.
And No, It Won’t Look “Weird.”
Only the edge of the nail and nail matrix that frequently becomes ingrown would need to be removed. We are careful to only remove the smallest sliver of nail that is necessary for us the success and safety of the procedure. This means you will still have most of your nail and it will still look quite natural. You shouldn’t have any concerns about painting them up and showing them off!
So what are you waiting for? If you’re sick of messing around with temporary measures and you’re ready to be done with your ingrown toenails for good, give us a call today. You can reach the Richardson Podiatry Center at (972) 690-4548.