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Why You Should Never Ignore an Ingrown Toenail

Why You Should Never Ignore an Ingrown Toenail

Many people have had an ingrown toenail at some point or other. Happily, at-home treatments are usually sufficient to resolve the problem, but it’s never a good idea to just ignore the redness, swelling, and pain of an ingrown toenail. 

Dr. Svetlana Malinsky and her staff are ready to treat your ingrown toenail if your efforts to take care of the problem at home don’t work. Just as an ingrown toenail can be more dangerous than you likely imagine, the treatment will probably be less painful than you think.

Why toenails become ingrown

Many different things can cause an ingrown toenail, like improperly fitting shoes, poor nail-cutting techniques, or participating in an activity like running or playing certain sports. What physically happens is the edge of your toenail begins to grow under your skin. 

Any nail can become ingrown, but it happens to toenails — especially the nail on your big toe — most often. Think about shoes for a moment. Shoes that you really like, but that don’t fit quite properly, can be very tempting to wear. But if there’s not enough room in the toe box, your shoes can push the skin of your toe into the nail.

Even your genetic makeup can contribute to ingrown toenails. Some people are simply more prone to this annoying and painful condition.

What happens without treatment

When an ingrown toenails first begins, you can try some home treatments. But if you don’t notice the problem or if your efforts don’t work, there’s a real risk that an infection will develop. 

An infected ingrown toenail is problematic. First, it’s painful. Second, it can spread into the bone of your toe or cause an open sore. 

If you have a condition like diabetes or peripheral artery disease that impairs the blood flow to your feet, an ingrown toenail is much more serious. An infection can be difficult to heal. Untreated, the infection may even result in something as serious as amputation.

Home treatments

As long as you don’t have diabetes or another condition that limits your blood flow, and you don’t have any symptoms of infection, like pus or a feeling of warmth, it’s OK to try a few remedies at home. A good soak in warm water several times a day can help. 

You may also want to try to gently push the skin away from your nail with a cotton ball soaked in olive oil. You can use a cream like Neosporin to help prevent an infection. If you need an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, and such medicines are safe for you, it’s OK to use them.

When to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist

If your symptoms get worse — more swelling, more discomfort, signs of infection — schedule an appointment with Dr. Malinsky. If your symptoms don’t get worse, but they also don’t improve, schedule an appointment.

It’s never a good idea to ignore an ingrown toenail. We have a number of effective treatments that can correct the problem and prevent unwanted complications.

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