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An ingrown toenail can make you painfully aware of a toe you normally wouldn’t notice. Besides causing pain, an ingrown toenail increases the risk of an infection, making it swollen and even more painful. Although an ingrown toenail is not life-threatening, your eazy foot & ankle podiatrist recommends treatment to relieve pain and restore the health of your toenails.

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails have several causes but wearing ill-fitting shoes, and improper grooming of the toenails are the most common causes. Crowding your feet into socks or shoes creates an environment for painful ingrown toenails to develop. That explains why ingrown toenails are common in tends and adolescents; they tend to outgrow their footwear quickly due to sudden growth spurts and body changes.

Improper trimming is also among the most common causes of ingrown toenails. Cutting the nails too short or tapering the corners of your toenail encourages the skin at the sides to fold over it. Therefore, cut straight across, and don’t trim your toenails too short.

Other causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Stubbing your toe or dropping something on your toes can cause ingrown nails to develop. Occasionally, participating in activities that put repeated pressure on your toes, like ballet, soccer, and running, also increases your risk of ingrown toenails.
  • You can inherit the tendency to develop ingrown toenails from your parents.
  • Poor circulation. Decreased arterial circulation elevates your risk of ingrown toenails. If you suffer repeated ingrown toenails and have heart disease, diabetes, or a long history of tobacco abuse, see your podiatrist.
  • Many people enjoy getting pedicures not only for aesthetic purposes but also because it is relaxing. There is nothing wrong with getting a pedicure but ensure you go to an experienced technician. You can develop an ingrown toenail if your provider trims your toenails incorrectly.

Treating ingrown toenails

If your ingrown toenail doesn’t show any signs of an infection, you can easily treat it at home. Soak the affected toe in warm water with Epsom salt or a mild detergent, then apply an antibiotic ointment and dress the area. Soaking the feet in warm water softens the skin and reduces inflammation, making it easier for you to clip the affected area.

If your ingrown toenail has an infection or you aren’t sure you can treat yours at home, you can visit a podiatrist. In the office, your provider will numb the area and cut out the offending nail border to alleviate the pain and allow the infection to heal. But this may not prevent an ingrown toenail from recurring.

Seeking medical treatment is important, especially if you have an infected ingrown toenail. Without treatment, a prolonged infection can spread and lead to serious complications. This is most likely to occur if you have diabetes, poor blood flow, or an impaired immune system.

For recurring ingrown toenails, your doctor may suggest a procedure called the phenol and alcohol matrixectomy. During this procedure, your specialist numbs the region, removes the affected nail portion, and applies the chemical phenol to burn and kill the cells that form the nail. This procedure offers a permanent solution to recurring ingrown toenails.

Visit your podiatrist at Eazy Foot & Ankle for ingrown toenails treatment to prevent getting an infection.