While not always serious or cause for alarm, Ingrown Toe nails are nonetheless a frustrating, often discomforting foot problem that can also be quite common. Most often, this condition will affect the big toe. Initially, those afflicted with the condition will notice minor discomfort. Sometimes, milder cases can be treated at home fairly easily. If it is more serious however, ingrown nail treatment needs to be sought before infection sets in to turn a mild discomfort into something a lot more painful and potentially problematic.
As the name implies, with this condition, the toe nail grows inwards rather than outwards, growing into to the skin usually at the side of the nail. As the nail also grows curved, the edges dig in to the skin around the nail, leading to inflammation, and sometimes, infection. If the nail has ingrown once, it can occur again – even after treatment. When the skin around the nail is broken, infection becomes far more likely. This can happen even if there is no obvious swelling or discomfort in the curved nail.
There are a few different things that could cause ingrown toe nails. Some of the more common causes include the following:
1. Heredity - Strange as it may seem, some people simply have an inherited case of toenail growth problems, which could go back a few generations or skip a generation or two. If there is a history of this condition in your family, you may be at risk too.
2. Trauma - Injury and trauma can also cause this condition to occur. Stubbed toes, toes hurt from objects being dropped onto the foot, repeated stress from running or kicking and other activities, that put pressure onto the toes can all lead to the nail growing abnormally.
3. Poor Trimming - Clipping toenails too short is one of the most common causes of this condition. The reason for this is that when the nails are cut right down to the skin, the skin next to the nail will be able to fold over the nail more easily. Try to trim your toenails so that there is enough room for the nail to grow out properly, and check that the edges of the nail are not too close to the skin on the side.
4. Poorly Sized Footwear -Another cause is shoes and socks that are too tight, or too short. Footwear that puts too much pressure onto the nails of the toe can trigger the nail to grow curved or into the skin if poorly sized shoes or socks are worn on a daily basis. Make sure that your feet are not squashed, so that there is room for your toes to move easily.
5. Nail Conditions - Another cause is the presence of nail conditions, which could range from fungal infections to trauma such as losing a nail. If there is already a problem with the nail, growth of the nail may be affected, leading to the nail being ingrown. This is a good reason to keep your feet in good health, with regular visits to your foot doctor if you are unsure whether you may need ingrown nail treatment.
Some people who have this complaint may not notice any obvious problems besides a bit of redness and irritation. Others may have significant redness, pain and swelling in the skin next to the ingrown toe nail. There may also be a discharge that is a clear yellow colour. This toe nail will have pus draining from the site of infection, which is a sign that ingrown toenail treatment is required immediately to prevent further problems arising from infection. Diabetics especially need to pay careful notice to any signs of infection in the foot, as this can be linked to circulation problems that have more serious consequences. When in doubt, the best bet is to consult a podiatrist, who specialises in all matters to do with foot health. This will help you get treated right away, rather than waiting for things to potentially get worse.
Ingrown toe nail treatment from a doctor is not always required if the symptoms are mild and there are no signs of infection. If you have any oozing or you have any medical conditions such as diabetes, bad circulation or nerve damage, all of which puts you at a higher risk for feet problems. It is best to seek treatment as quickly as possible. Home treatments for mild cases can be done with simple yet effective foot soaks using Epsom’s salts or room-temperature water and gentle massage. Do not ever attempt to cut the skin, put cotton wool underneath the nail, repeatedly cut the nail or take any drastic measures. Topical cream may relieve pain, but these will not treat the underlying issue. If you do not see any sign of improvement, seek help from a trusted podiatrist.
Treatment from an expert foot doctor will involve an examination to determine the best ingrown toenail treatment option, which will depend on the severity of the condition. You may be given an oral antibiotic if there is an infection. If surgery is required, do not worry – this procedure can be performed at the doctor with just a local anaesthetic. During this minor surgery, the doctor will remove part of the nail that borders the skin. If the same nail becomes ingrown again, the nail root may have to be removed. After the procedure, the doctor will lightly bandage your toe. Generally, the procedure is not very painful and most people are able to resume everyday activities the very next day, with much of the initial pain from the ingrown nail relieved.