If the border of your toenail is digging painfully into your skin, you are likely suffering from an ingrown toenail. These most often occur on the big toe but can also affect any other toes. Sometimes, the cause is something as simple as incorrect footwear or trimming techniques. For other individuals, ingrown toenails may be an unavoidable occurrence due to unusually curved nails or unideal foot structure.
Home Care for Minor Cases
If your ingrown toenail is minor, with a simple cause that’s been rectified (such as by kicking improper footwear to the curb), you may be able to recover at home. Soaking your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes, a few times a day, can help with the pain and swelling. After soaking, you should lift the nail slightly with waxed dental floss or a clean cotton pad. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers may also help relieve the discomfort of a minor ingrown toenail.
Seeking Professional Treatment
While home care is a fine first step, it’s best not to pursue this route for too long. If a short trial does not begin to clear up your ingrown toenail situation, or if you notice drainage or excessive redness, you need to visit a podiatrist.
When you visit a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail, you will find that your podiatrist can recognize the condition very quickly, typically with only a physical inspection. You may be asked to stand or walk as part of the inspection. In some cases, a podiatrist may order x-rays in order to see how deep the nail goes, as well as to identify possible causes including previous injuries.
In most cases, a podiatrist will remove the ingrown toenail on the spot and may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to help stave off infection. If you return more than once to have the same nail treated, your podiatrist may recommend a minor surgery to permanently remove the offending corner of your nail. This surgery can be conducted with a special chemical, laser, or other method.
If you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic, it’s important to diligently follow instructions for a fast recovery. You can shower as soon as the next day, but your podiatrist may recommend you avoid baths, swimming, or otherwise soaking your toe for 2 weeks. It’s unlikely that you will experience much pain or discomfort during recovery, but over-the-counter pain medications can help manage these sensations.
Visit Our Podiatrist’s Office in Lake Zurich
Are you struggling with a painful ingrown toenail? If home care is not helping resolve it, please reach out to us to make an appointment soon to avoid infection.
Alpine Foot Specialists remains open through the COVID-19 pandemic. An in-person appointment is not necessary for many common ailments. If you are having any problems with your feet, please contact us to set up a telehealth appointment.