Ingrown toenails are one of the most common problems I see as a podiatrist. They are painful and can ruin your entire day. Today I am going to provide some tips on what to do if you have an ingrown nail.
1) Prevention- Often ingrown toenails can be prevented, other times there is nothing you can do about it. My first tip to preventing ingrown nails is trim your toenail straight across. Many times people round and cut into the corners which make it easier for the nail to grow into the skin. Which leads me to my second point: don’t cut your nail too short. Often people trim their nails too short and the nail gets caught up in the corner and grows into and under the skin. Third, wear good shoes with a wide toe box. Tight, narrow shoes cramp the edges of the toe leading to irritation and inflammation of the area.
2) Soak your feet in warm water or epsom salt- Try soaking your feet. Not only is it soothing but it can help relieve swelling and pain. 10-15 minutes a couple times a day is all you need to do for the soaks.
3) Gently pull the edge of the nail away from the skin- Using a clean nail file or other blunt device that won’t hurt the toe carefully attempt to lift the nail from the corner. People then often stuff a small piece of toilet paper or moist cotton in this area to hold the nail in place and relieve pressure.
4) Take an over the counter pain medication such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol. These will temporarily relieve some of the pain.
5) Don’t let it linger- It is better to see a podiatrist in the early stages of the ingrown as prolonged waiting can lead to an infection. Be aware of infection signs such as increased redness, pain, inflammation, and drainage/pus. More serious signs of infection include nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever in which you’d need to see a doctor ASAP.
A podiatrist can attempt to cut the affected portion of the nail without local anesthesia by trimming the edge of the nail at an angle to remove the ingrown part. However, if the nail is too deep and ingrows closer to the base the podiatrist can numb the toe and remove either a small portion of the nail or the entire nail. If there are any signs of infection often an antibiotic is prescribed as well.
Dr. Sean Reyes
24/7 Podiatrist in Las Vegas