An ingrown toenail may start out as just some red, puffy skin along the side of your big toenail. Tight shoes or inherited tendencies may push your skin in over the edge of the nail plate. This excessive growth of skin is called hyper-granulation tissue, and it can become irritated, red, sore, and possibly infected. If you happen to bump it, you’ll be hopping around and hollering, and it may even bleed. How did it get that way? What can you do about it?
Heading Off This Toe Problem
Even if the toenails you inherited are prone to becoming ingrown, there are things you can do to keep it from happening. One is shoe choice. Stop trying to cram your toes into shoes that are too small, short, or pointed. Give them room to move! The following tips will also help:
- Trim your toenails straight across and not too short—following the white band on your nail
- Avoid cutting deep down the side of the nails or “digging” with sharp instruments
- Socks as well as shoes should not be too tight
- Maintain good hygiene by keeping your feet clean at all times
- Seek medical attention if your feet perspire excessively
If You Already Have Ingrown Toenails, Try These Tips
First, soak your foot in warm salt water two to three times each day. The warm water helps soften the area and relieve pain, and the salt helps prevent infection. If your pain is caused by a jagged nail spike, now is the time to gently trim it away.
Second, place a small amount of absorbent cotton or waxed floss between the skin and the nail to protect the skin from irritation. Eventually it may recede to its proper position and grow normally.
Finally, if the area has any pus or discharge, dab some antibiotic ointment on it, cover with a bandage until you can come in, and have it examined.
How We Can Help
Many times simply following these nail care tips can relieve the pressure and allow the tissue to heal on its own. Infections should always be taken seriously, though, because they can lead to complications. It is best to contact our office to determine the best course of treatment for your condition. People with diabetes or poor circulation should always seek medical attention. Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed by your M.D. if an infection is present.
Recurring ingrown toenails may be taken care of with a simple surgical procedure (done right in our office) for permanent relief. The procedure involves injecting the toe with a local anesthetic and cutting out the ingrown part of the toenail.
People often wait to see if the problem will just go away, and sometimes it does. If it doesn’t, don’t ignore your painful toenails. Contact the Palmer Foot Clinic in Winnipeg, and let Podiatrist Iain Palmer help you find relief from your discomfort. Call (204) 697-0649.
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