Ingrown Toenails: Causes and Treatments
Ingrown toenails are a common but painful problem that occurs when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin. If ingrown toenails are something that you are dealing with rather often then you may want to figure out what’s causing them so you can put a stop to it. From the office of our Chevy Chase, MD, podiatrist Dr. Michael Gittleson, learn more about the causes and treatment options for ingrown toenails.
What causes an ingrown toenail?
There are many reasons why someone may be at an increased risk for developing ingrown toenails. Common causes include.
Wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight: this compresses the toes and puts too much pressure on the toenails
Trimming the nails too short: nails that are rounded over or trimmed at an angle are more likely to become ingrown than nails that are trimmed straight across
Fungal infections: a fungal infection can cause the toenail to widen and thicken, which can increase the likelihood of an ingrown toenail
Injury to the nail: often the result of a sports-related injury
A family history of ingrown toenails: if your parents are prone to ingrown toenails you may be too
Can I treat an ingrown toenail on my own?
If you are a healthy individual then you may be able to handle an ingrown toenail on your own without seeking treatment from our Chevy Chase, MD, foot specialist; however, you should absolutely see a podiatrist for treatment if you suffer from diabetes or if you have nerve damage in your feet, as even small problems like ingrown toenails can lead to more serious complications.
You can treat your ingrown toenail by:
- Soaking your feet for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day in warm water
- Placing a piece of cotton under the toenail to help it grow away from the skin
- Wearing shoes that fit properly and don’t put pressure on the toenail
- Taking pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling
- Applying an antibiotic ointment to prevent an infection
When should I see a doctor about my ingrown toenail?
Even if there are no signs of infection you should see a doctor if you haven’t notice an improvement in your symptoms after three days of at-home care, if it’s been more than five years since your last tetanus shot or if you have a condition that slows your body’s ability to heal effectively. Symptoms of an infection include pus or drainage coming from the toenail and red inflamed skin that can be warm to the touch.
If you are having trouble with ingrown toenails, heel pain, ankle instability, or any other problems it’s important that you have a foot specialist you can turn to for help. Call our Chevy Chase, MD, podiatry practice today and let us know how we can help you.