Ingrown toenails are painful and not a condition that will go away on its own. When a nail curves and starts to grow into the skin it irritates that the skin, causing it to become red and swollen. The area around the ingrown nail may feel warm and it usually hurts. If the ingrown nail breaks the skin, bacteria can get in and an infection may develop. You will see pus and there may be a foul smell if the toe has become infected.
Causes and Prevention
At Great Neck Family Foot Care, our board certified podiatrists treat many cases of ingrown toenails. There are several causes of this common ailment:
- Improper trimming—this is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. Cutting your nails too short encourages the skin to fold over the nail and the nail to subsequently grow into your skin
- Trauma—an ingrown toenail can come about after a trauma, such as a heavy object dropping on your toe and seriously stubbing it or from participating in activities that put repeated pressure on your toes like running or kicking
- Heredity—for many people ingrown toenails are an inherited tendency
- Improperly sized footwear—wear socks and shoes that are not too tight and do not compress the toes to prevent ingrown toenails from starting
- Nail conditions—a fungal infection or losing a nail because of a trauma may also lead to ingrown toenails
If no infection is suspected and you do not have diabetes or nerve damage in your foot, there is a home treatment you can try. First, soak your foot in room-temperature water. Then gently massage the side of the nail fold to help reduce inflammation and work the nail out. If this does not work, it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Alec Hochstein or Dr. Diana Gagliano. Our foot and ankle surgeons may perform a minor surgical procedure (usually in office) to remove the nail’s side border. If an infection is present, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed. Most people experience very little pain after the procedure and resume normal activity the next day.
If you have an ingrown toenail, we can help you get relief. Our Great Neck office, conveniently located on Bond Street, offers evening hours on Thursdays and Saturday morning appointments too. To schedule an appointment, call our office at (516) 482-5999 or contact us through our website.