When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require Medical Treatment?

Ingrown toenails are an extremely common foot condition. They might not seem like a big deal, but what starts as mild redness or swelling can lead to intense pain, infection, and other serious health complications if left untreated.

An ingrown toenail forms when part of your nail grows into the skin around it. Though some ingrown toenails disappear on their own, many people find that ingrown toenails cause irritation and discomfort — and they’re often a recurring issue.

Severe ingrown toenails are incredibly painful, particularly if infection develops. The pain can make wearing shoes and walking uncomfortable, and your risk of complications increases if you have diabetes or other circulatory problems. 

If you’ve noticed redness, pain, or swelling near your toenail, don’t ignore it. Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists are here to relieve your pain with expert ingrown toenail care.

How ingrown toenails form

The skin that surrounds your nails is delicate, and nails can be sharp if they’re trimmed incorrectly. When the side or corner of your toenail gets embedded in the soft skin, irritation can develop. Ingrown toenails most commonly affect big toes, but they can develop on any toe.

Ingrown toenails can happen to anyone, but a few factors might make it more likely that you’ll suffer the pain of ingrown nails. A few risk factors for ingrown toenails include:

Mild ingrown toenails may be remedied with at-home care. Soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts or castile soap for 20 minutes at a time, up to three times a day can reduce pain and swelling. Using antibiotic ointment or cream on your toe to reduce the risk of infection and help your body heal faster.

There are some cases in which you shouldn’t wait for your ingrown toenail to heal on its own. Never attempt to remove the ingrown portion of your nail at home. If home remedies aren’t working, you notice signs of infection, or you have diabetes, you should seek professional medical treatment for your ingrown toenail.

When to go to the podiatrist for ingrown toenail care

Professional medical care at The Foot & Ankle specialists can relieve ingrown toenail pain, treat infection, and even reduce your risk of developing more ingrown nails in the future. If your pain is persistent or you’re at risk for infection, make an appointment with Dr. Lisa Burson and Dr. Joe Aoun.

Signs of an ingrown toenail infection can include:

Our team begins by examining your toe. Sometimes, ingrown toenails can be treated by simply lifting the nail and separating it from surrounding skin. In more severe cases, we may remove the part of your nail that’s affected.

Removing a portion of your toenail is a straightforward procedure that’s performed in our office under local anesthetic. Not only does this treatment alleviate your ingrown toenail pain, but it can stop recurring ingrown toenails.

If you have an infection from your ingrown toenail, our team prescribes either topical or oral antibiotics to fight it and prevent it from spreading. We can also recommend strategies for reducing your risk of ingrown toenails in the future.

Properly trimming your nails and wearing well-fitting shoes can help keep toenails healthy. If you have diabetes, Dr. Lisa Burson and Dr. Joe Aoun recommend regular foot exams to prevent infection and slow-healing wounds.

Have a painful ingrown toenail? Get quick, effective care at The Foot & Ankle Specialists. Call the office nearest you, or book an appointment online today.

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