Ingrown Toenails Causes and Treatment

Ingrown Toenails Causes and Treatment

Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain, swelling, and possible infection. in this post we will discuss ingrown toenails causes and treatment. Understanding the causes, implementing prevention tips, and practicing proper at-home care can help manage ingrown toenails effectively. Here’s a detailed overview:

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

  1. Improper Nail Trimming: Trimming the toenails too short or rounding the edges can encourage the nail to grow into the skin.
  2. Tight or Ill-Fitting Shoes: Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow can put pressure on the toes and contribute to the development of ingrown toenails.
  3. Trauma or Injury: Stubbing the toe or experiencing repetitive trauma to the nail can cause it to grow abnormally and lead to ingrown toenails.
  4. Genetics: Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to develop ingrown toenails, such as having naturally curved nails or excessive nail thickness.


Treatment of Ingrown Toenails

  1. Soak Your Feet:

Start by soaking your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes, two to three times a day. The warm water helps soften the skin, making it easier to gently manipulate the ingrown toenail and reduce inflammation. You can add Epsom salt or a mild antiseptic solution to the water for added benefits.

  1. Proper Nail Trimming:

Trim your nails straight across, avoiding rounded edges. Cutting the nails too short or rounding the corners can contribute to ingrown toenails. Be cautious not to cut the nails too deeply, as this may worsen the condition. If you’re unsure or have difficulty trimming your nails, consider seeking assistance from a podiatrist.

  1. Lift the Nail:

Using a clean and sterilized cotton ball or dental floss, gently lift the ingrown edge of the toenail away from the skin. This technique helps create a gap between the nail and the skin, relieving pressure and promoting healing. Remember to change the cotton or floss daily to maintain cleanliness.

  1. Apply Topical Antibiotics:

After soaking your feet, apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the affected area. This helps prevent infection and promotes healing. Be sure to follow the instructions provided with the ointment and consult a healthcare professional if the condition worsens or persists.

  1. Use Protective Padding:

To relieve discomfort and protect the ingrown toenail, place a small piece of sterile cotton or dental floss under the edge of the nail. This provides a cushioning effect and helps lift the nail away from the skin, reducing irritation.

  1. Pain Management:

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with ingrown toenails. Follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

  1. Avoid Tight Shoes and Socks:

Wear properly fitting shoes with enough room for your toes to move freely. Avoid tight shoes or high heels that put pressure on the toes and exacerbate the ingrown toenail. Opt for breathable socks and avoid wearing socks that are too tight, as they can further irritate the affected area.

  1. Seek Professional Help:

If self-care measures do not provide relief or if the ingrown toenail becomes infected, it is advisable to seek professional assistance. A podiatrist can provide specialized treatment options, including:

  1.  Partial Nail Avulsion: In this procedure, the podiatrist removes the ingrown portion of the nail while preserving the healthy nail. It can be performed under local anaesthesia.
  2. Total Nail Avulsion: In severe cases, the entire nail may need to be removed. The procedure allows for a new, healthy nail to grow in its place.
  3. Antibiotics: If the ingrown toenail is infected, the podiatrist may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat the infection.
  4. Other Interventions: In some cases, the podiatrist may recommend additional treatments, such as chemical cauterization or laser therapy, to address the ingrown toenail.


Prevention Tips for Ingrown Toenails

  • Proper Nail Trimming Technique: Trim your toenails straight across, avoiding rounded edges. Leave the nails slightly longer than the tips of the toes to reduce the risk of the nail growing into the skin.
  • Wear Properly Fitting Shoes: Choose shoes that provide enough room for your toes to move freely. Avoid narrow or tight shoes that squeeze the toes together and put pressure on the nails.
  • Protect Your Feet: When engaging in activities that may increase the risk of foot trauma, such as sports or heavy lifting, wear protective footwear or toe guards to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Maintain Good Foot Hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent fungal infections that can affect nail growth and increase the likelihood of ingrown toenails.


Steps for At-Home Care of Ingrown Toenails

  1. Soak Your Feet: Soaking your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes, several times a day, can help soften the skin and reduce swelling. Add a mild antiseptic solution or Epsom salt for additional benefits.
  2. Gently Lift the Nail: After soaking, use a clean cotton ball or dental floss to carefully lift the ingrown edge of the nail away from the skin. This helps promote proper nail growth.
  3. Apply Topical Antibiotics: If the skin around the ingrown nail shows signs of infection, apply a topical antibiotic ointment to prevent further infection.
  4. Protect with Bandages: Place a small piece of sterile gauze or cotton under the lifted nail edge to cushion it and prevent it from growing back into the skin. Change the dressing regularly.
  5. Avoid Cutting the Nail: While managing an ingrown toenail, avoid cutting or trimming the affected nail until it has properly healed. Allow the nail to grow out naturally.
  6. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If the ingrown toenail worsens, becomes severely infected, or does not improve with at-home care, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist. They can provide further treatment options, such as nail removal or antibiotics if necessary.

Remember, proper at-home care of ingrown toenails is helpful for mild cases. However, if the condition persists, causes severe pain, or shows signs of infection, seeking professional medical assistance is crucial to prevent complications and ensure proper healing.


Complications of ingrown toenails

Complications can arise from untreated or improperly managed ingrown toenails. Some of the potential complications of ingrown toenails include:

  • Infection: Ingrown toenails can create an entry point for bacteria, leading to infection. Signs of infection include increased pain, redness, swelling, warmth, and pus or drainage around the affected toenail. If left untreated, the infection can spread and potentially lead to cellulitis or even a bone infection (osteomyelitis).
  • Abscess: In severe cases of infection, an abscess may develop. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms within the surrounding tissue. It can cause significant pain, swelling, and even difficulty walking.
  • Ulceration: If an ingrown toenail persists and causes ongoing pressure and irritation, it can lead to the formation of an open sore or ulcer. Ulceration can be painful and increases the risk of infection.
  • Chronic inflammation: When an ingrown toenail repeatedly irritates the surrounding skin, it can result in chronic inflammation. This can lead to discomfort, pain, and changes in the tissue around the nail bed.
  • Nail deformity: If an ingrown toenail is left untreated or recurrent, it can potentially cause permanent changes to the nail. The nail may grow abnormally, become thicker, or develop a more curved or irregular shape.
  • Restricted mobility and activity limitations: Severe or persistent ingrown toenails can significantly impact mobility and quality of life. The pain and discomfort associated with the condition can make it difficult to walk, wear shoes, or engage in regular activities.

It’s important to address ingrown toenails promptly to prevent complications. If you experience signs of infection, severe pain, or are unable to manage the ingrown toenail on your own, it is recommended to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional or a podiatrist. They can provide appropriate treatment, such as nail trimming, wound care, antibiotic therapy, or, in some cases, minor surgical procedures to resolve the ingrown toenail and prevent complications.


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