Ingrown toenails often are the result of trimming your toenails too short, particularly on the sides of your big toes.
While they are common, ingrown toenails can be very painful. When trimming your nails (or getting a pedicure) avoid tapering the corners so that the nail curves with the shape of your toe. The sides of the nail will curl down and dig into your skin. Shoes that are too tight or short also may cause ingrown toenails by exerting abnormal pressures on the sides of the nails, forcing them downward into the flesh of your toe.
Ingrown toenails start out hard, swollen and tender, and later, may become sore, red and infected. Your skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail. Do not attempt to cut the nail in this condition. Not only will it be extremely painful, it may make the matter worse.
Soaking your foot in warm, soapy water several times each day is usually a good initial step to try and treat an ingrown nail. Also, you can try inserting some cotton or waxed dental floss between the nail and your skin. If this fails after a few days, or the pain gets worse, please contact our office so we can help you determine the best course of treatment for your condition.
Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed if an infection is present at the site of the ingrown nail. Part of your ingrown toenail may need to be surgically removed (partial nail plate avulsion) if an acute infection occurs. The procedure involves numbing the toe with an anesthetic and cutting out the ingrown part of the toenail.
You can prevent ingrown toenails by:
- Trimming your toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
- Ensuring that your shoes and socks are not too tight.
- Keeping your feet clean at all times.
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