Cut It Out! Facts About Ingrown Toenails

Q: What Is It?

An ingrown toenail occurs when a sharp corner of the toenail curls into the skin or side of the toe. First, pain and inflammation occurs, later, the inflamed area can sometimes form an infection.

Q: How Did I Get An Ingrown?

  • Improper toenail trimming (too short, wrong shape)
  • Tight fitting shoes or high heels
  • A fungal infection can cause a thick or wide toenail to develop
  • Repetitive damage from physical activity
  • Family! If other family members get them, you can too because the nails may be shaped the same
  • Bunions sometimes lead to ingrown nails

Q: How Can I Tell If I’m Getting An Ingrown?

  • The end of the toe becomes red and painfulIt feels warm to the touch
  • It feels warm to the touch
  • Extra skin and tissue begin to grow around the sharp point of the nail
  • A yellow or clear discharge begins
  • An infection develops. (increase pain, swelling, warmth, foul odor)

Q: When Should I See My Doctor?

  • When the toenail is inflamed or painful
  • Signs of infection
  • No signs of improvement within 3 days

  • Q: Are There Home Remedies I Can Try?

  • Soak your foot in warm water with epsom salt for a few days
  • Wash the infected area twice a day with soap and water
  • Use a topical antibiotic (i.e bacitracin or neosporin)
  • Avoid tight fitting shoes and high heels
  • Gently lift the nail away from the skin by placing cotton between the nail and skin
  • Take pain relievers (anti-inflammatory)

    • At first signs of inflammation or infection see your podiatrist (Your podiatrist may remove some of the nail/tissue near the infected area)
    • When the infection improves, file the nail straight across, but not too short
    • Wear proper shoes (avoid narrow shoes) all the time
    • Frequently clean nails

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