Ingrown Toenails Causes and Treatment
When the a toenail begins to grow into the surrounding skin rather than across the nail bed, it can lead to infection and pain. For patients with circulatory issues, diabetes or toe numbness, ingrown toenails can actually pose a very serious risk of complication, up to and including loss of a limb. The first thing you should do is consult with a podiatrist in your area, and schedule an appointment immediately. An ingrown toenail is more than a painful cosmetic issue and can have a variety of causes.
While any toenail has the potential to become ingrown, the most commonly affected digit is the big toe. Traumatic injury to the toe near the nail bed can lead to an ingrown nail, and you’re more likely to suffer from one if someone in your immediate family has had one. High heel and tight shoes can compress the toes, with the resultant pressure causing abnormal nail growth which may also result in an ingrown toenail.
In some cases, ingrown nails are caused by fungal infections, which may thicken and widen the toenail and lead to painful, improper growth. One of the more common causes of ingrown toenails, however, is simply improper trimming. Rounded corners can lead to the nail digging into the skin surrounding the nail bed, which can easily progress to an ingrown nail. Be sure you always trim toenails straight across, rather than rounding the edges. Refrain from wearing tight shoes or high heels whenever possible, and keep an eye on any injury which may affect the nail bed.
Spotting Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown nails are relatively easy to spot. In the beginning, reddening and mild swelling of the end of the toe are common. The affected toe may be painful and warm to the touch. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can very easily become infected. Should an infection develop, you will notice an increase of swelling and may see yellow or white colored drainage from the site of infection. In rare cases, you may develop a low-grade fever as the infection takes hold.
You should immediately seek the attention of a podiatrist if your ingrown toenail develops an infection. If you have inflammation without signs of infection, its still imperative for patients whose tetanus immunization isn’t up to date, those who have HIV/AIDS, vascular issues and diabetes. Patients undergoing chemotherapy or with increased risk of infection should also seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Your podiatrist may recommend a round of self-care treatments to be administered at home after examining an ingrown toenail. These may include regular soaking in warm water, and attempting to elevate the affected nail. In some cases, more aggressive treatment may be prescribed. This especially holds true if there is a present infection, or if there are no signs of improvement after completing home treatment. Surgical intervention may be necessary in some cases, which will include the partial or complete removal of the affected nail. Your podiatrist may also decide to remove part of the nail bed or destroy the cells which spur nail growth to prevent future issues.
If you think you may be suffering from an ingrown toenail, it’s best to consult with a podiatrist as soon as possible in order to being immediate treatment. With proper care, your pain and the risk of infection can be addressed effectively.