Our toes are little workhorses that go through so much every day. We often don’t pay them too much attention as we shove them into our shoes, hastily clip our nails, or precariously bang them into furniture. Unfortunately, all of these instances and injuries can wind up affecting how our nails grow, resulting in pain, redness, inflammation, and something called ingrown toenails.
What are Ingrown Toenails?
When the front edge or side of your toenails begin digging painfully into your soft tissue, you’re experiencing ingrown toenails. It’s the most common nail problem and usually leads to irritation and a great deal of discomfort. Typically, the big toe most commonly suffers from this condition, but other toes can be affected as well. While an ingrown toenail often starts out as tender to the touch, it can quickly become a painful predicament.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
An ingrown toenail can develop for several reasons. Some of the biggest culprits include:
- Trimming your nails improperly or too short
- Repeated trauma to the toes such as stubbing, dropping a heavy item on your foot, or experiencing an injury to the toes during a fall
- Ill-fitting shoes that crowd or pinch your toes
- Hereditary factors
What are the Symptoms?
Initially, any symptoms you may experience with an ingrown toenail are usually mild and may include minor discomfort when you touch the affected nail or wiggle your toes. As the condition worsens, however, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Increasing pain, even when you’re not touching the area
- Redness and swelling of the affected toe
- Prominent skin tissue
- Weeping drainage or pus
How Can You Prevent Ingrown Toenails?
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help your toenails remain healthy and happy! Make these changes to your lifestyle if you haven’t already:
- Trim your nails properly. You should cut them straight across, rather than curving them along the toes. After cutting them, use an emery board to shape them.
- Trim your toenails frequently and don’t cut them too short.
- Never rip or tear the edges of your nails! Use a nail clipper or emery board instead.
- Wear properly-fitting shoes that don’t have a pointy or narrow toe box.
- Check your feet and nails regularly. If you have diabetes, check them every day.
When Should You See a Podiatrist?
The short answer to this question is anytime. The knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center can assess and address your ingrown toenail properly and help you find relief. However, if you experience the following, definitely make an appointment with us as soon as you can!
- Your ingrown toenail doesn’t improve after a few days of self-care at home.
- You’re experiencing frequent and intense pain.
- Your affected toenail is impairing your movement.
- You notice any drainage, excessive redness, or swelling around the toenail. These are possible signs of infection and should be addressed right away.
- Your ingrown toenail keeps returning.
- You suffer from diabetes or other conditions that cause poor circulation.
Rely on the Doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center Many people who have ingrown toenails or other nail issues are often too embarrassed to ask for help or make an appointment with a specialist. You don’t have to live like this! Our friendly doctors have the expertise and technology to help you find lasting relief from your ingrown toenail. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling (314) 487-9300 and start loving your toes again!