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What Is the Best Treatment for Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenails can cause minor discomfort or terrible pain, depending on how much they have grown. For many lucky people, an ingrown nail will resolve by itself, without any treatment.
Others people get aggressive ingrown nails that force them to walk with a limp. That type of ingrown toenail can immobilize a person. More so if it is left to grow to a point that it causes complications.
Nobody wants that, which is why prompt treatment will help you get rid of the pain, discomfort or complications caused by that pesky toenail.
What causes ingrown toenails?
A toenail is only supposed to grow forward, not into the folds of the toe. Unfortunately, many people do not have toenails that grow the way they are supposed to.
An ingrown toenail can be as a result of one or more of the following reasons:
- Constant stress to the toes: This can occur with athletes who kick things all the time. It is also common with people who do ballet and people who wear shoes that pinch their toes
- Trauma to the toe: A stubbed toe can develop an ingrown nail. Dropping a heavy object on a toe can also result in an ingrown nail
- Cutting the toenails the wrong way: Toenails should be cut straight across. Trying to round the toenail at the corners can cause it to grow into the folds of the toes
- Thickened toenails: Some people have naturally thick nails. So do many older people. Thick toenails are more likely to become ingrown
- A hereditary trait: Some people have a genetic trait (like nails that fan sideways) that causes their toenails to become ingrown
Home remedy treatments for ingrown toenails
It is possible to treat an ingrown nail at home. Here are a few ways to deal with that troublesome toenail:
1. Olive oil treatment
Use a cotton bud to apply olive oil to the skin that is adjacent to the toenail. When the skin softens, gently push it away from the nail and place dental floss or cotton between the skin and the nail. Do this twice a day.
It will cause the nail to grow away from the skin.
2. A warm soak
Soak the foot in warm soapy water to soften the skin and separate it from the toenail. Do this three or four times a day. Instead of soap, a person can opt for white vinegar, a little bleach or some Epsom salts.
After each soak, place dental floss or cotton between the nail and the skin.
3. Prevent or remove an infection
Use a topical antibiotic on the toe and wrap it with a bandage.
4. Keep the feet healthy
Wear comfortable, preferably open shoes and rest the foot.
These measures should prevent the nail from growing further into the toe. That said, home remedies should only be used by healthy people with no chronic conditions or weakened immunity. As an example, a person with diabetes should always choose medical treatment over home remedies.
When to see a doctor
An ingrown toenail can break the skin, which in turn can cause infection. When a person notices the following signs of infection, they should see a doctor:
- Throbbing pain that makes it hard to walk
- A toe that feels warm or hot
- Skin that is red, hardened, too soft or overgrown
- A discharge of pus
These are classic signs of infection. If the ingrown toe is left untreated at this point, it could develop into a complication like gangrene.
Medical treatments for ingrown toenails
When the ingrown toenail becomes a chronic problem, a foot specialist will step in. They will remove part or all of the toenail in a minor surgical procedure.
If the podiatrist chooses to remove part of the nail, they will numb the toe and cut away the sides of the toenail. The sides of the remaining toenail will be made completely straight.
To stop the nail from growing back, the doctor will put cotton on the edges of the remaining nail. They may also choose to treat the toe with a compound called phenol.
If the podiatrist chooses to remove the whole toenail, they will remove the nail bed along with it. This will prevent the nail from growing back.
After surgery, the doctor may also prescribe a course of antibiotics and rest.
Preventative measures are the best treatment
The best cure for ingrown toenails is not to get one in the first place. By keeping your feet and toes healthy, you can reduce the chance of a problem toenail.
If your toenail gives you trouble, contact us and make an appointment. We will have your toe back in shape in no time.
Request an appointment here: https://www.tetonpodiatry.com or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (307) 414-1064 for an appointment in our Jackson office.
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