Sometimes the worst pain can come from the smallest source. That’s very much the case if you happen to be dealing with a severe ingrown toenail!
Although some ingrown toenails are relatively mild and can be treated at home, others can lead to severe discomfort and dangerous infections, and should definitely be handled by a professional.
The good news is that, contrary to what you might think, in-office treatment for ingrown toenails tends to be simple, quick, and extremely effective! With very little pain, we can resolve your issue and send you back on your way.
What Is an Ingrown Toenail?
This condition occurs when, rather than growing out comfortably, a side or corner of the nail is diverted sideways into the nearby skin.
The most obvious sign of an ingrown toenail is pain and tenderness along the toe at the site where the toenail has become ingrown. You may also notice swelling, redness, or drainage of pus.
Severe pain, spreading redness, and pus are all solid signs of an infection, which is something you really don’t want to mess with.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
There are several different factors that can contribute to development of an ingrown toenail. Some of the most common include:
- Poor footwear choices. Excessively tight shoes are the most frequent “environmental” offender. Avoid shoes that don’t allow your toenails to wiggle freely, or cause your toes to slam into the front of the shoe over and over again.
- Incorrect toenail trimming technique. Are you cutting your toenails incorrectly? If you’re cutting them too short or rounding the corners too excessively, the answer may be “yes.”
- Accidental injuries. If you stub your toe, drop something on it, or suffer some other direct blow or injury to the toenail, an ingrown nail may follow.
- The natural shape of the nail. Some people were simply born with toenails that are extra curvy and prone to becoming ingrown again and again. Fortunately, all hope is not lost in this scenario—we have a procedure we can perform to stop them from coming back.
Do I Need to See a Doctor?
We strongly encourage you to call us immediately if you fall under any of the following categories:
- You are experiencing severe pain, especially pain that is preventing you from engaging in or enjoying normal activities.
- You notice any signs of infection.
- Your ingrown toenail is not getting better or is getting worse after several days
- You have any condition that affects either blood flow to the feet or nerve sensitivity in the feet. This includes diabetes.
- You seem to get ingrown toenails regularly.
That being said, you definitely do not need to wait for any of these signs before calling us! Most people don’t come in to see us until their toenail is already really painful and infected. But if they had come in earlier, we could have saved them a lot of pain and frustration!
Treating Ingrown Toenails at Home
If you do not have any of the contraindications above, you may attempt home care if you wish. Do not attempt if you have diabetes, poor circulation, neuropathy or a related condition, and discontinue immediately and call us if your pain worsens or you develop an infection.
To deal with the pain of a mild ingrown toenail, soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt for about 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day. Gently pat dry afterward, apply an antibiotic cream to the area, and apply a fresh, loose bandage. Avoid putting pressure on the nail by wearing roomy or open-toed shoes.
Never, under any circumstances, attempt to dig or cut out an ingrown toenail, or “prop” it with anything. Doing so only dramatically increases the risk of a painful and dangerous infection.
Professional Ingrown Toenail Treatment
This is the preferred treatment for ingrown toenails. As we said above, it is a quick, simple process that can be achieved in a single appointment at our office.
We’ll inject the toe with a local anesthetic that works quickly to numb the area. Once it takes effect, there should be no pain or discomfort whatsoever from the procedure.
The ingrown edge of the toenail is then removed, relieving the source of the pain and dramatically improving your symptoms afterward.
If ingrown toenails have been a persistent problem, we can also remove a portion of the nail matrix that corresponds to the edge of the nail that becomes ingrown. This prevents that edge of the nail from growing back. Only a very small portion needs to be removed, so your nail will still look natural. However, your risk of developing future ingrown toenails will be significantly diminished!
Contact the Experts Today
A severe ingrown toenail can be truly miserable. If you’ve ever had one, you already know.
If an ingrown toenail is causing you pain and getting in the way of you living your best life—or if you just don’t want to wait until it does—give our office a call at (360) 761-1285, or reach out using our online contact form.