Ingrown toenail treatment
About Ingrown toenail
Ingrown toenails are common foot conditions in which the corner or edge of a toenail grows into the soft skin around it, usually occurring in the big toe. While ingrown toenails do not pose much of a health risk, they can be very painful.
Common symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain, soreness, swelling, and redness around the affected toe. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can become infected, which may cause pus to ooze from around the toe. The infection caused by an ingrown toenail may spread to the toe bone, resulting in a very serious bone infection. Individuals with diabetes have an increased risk of infection from an ingrown toenail, as poor blood flow to the lower extremities prevents your body from fighting infection.
Ingrown toenails are frequently caused by cutting your toenails too short, or hedging corners of the nail. As that nail grows back in, it may grow into the skin around the toe.
- Tearing the toenail
- Wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe box, which can cause toe crowding
- Toe injury (like stubbing your toe or dropping something on your toe)
- A natural toenail shape that is unusually curved, or is larger than the toe itself
If you are experiencing pain in your toe, or are noticing pus oozing from your toenail, seek medical attention. These are common signs of an ingrown toenail or foot infection. Individuals with diabetes should talk to a doctor at the first sign of a foot infection, as poor blood flow to the feet can result in serious infections and gangrene.
Below is a list of treatment options for an ingrown toenail. During your appointment, discuss your symptoms with your doctor, and talk about a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Most ingrown toenails can be treated effectively with simple self-care strategies. These methods include:
- Soak your foot. Soaking your foot in a warm water bath with Epsom salts can reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Do this 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Wrap the toe. Apply an antibiotic cream (like Neosporin) to the affected area and wrap the toe in a bandage. This can help prevent infection.
- Raise the toenail. After soaking your toe in an Epsom salt bath, raise the toenail with a clean piece of cotton or dental floss. Change the padding every day to prevent infection.
- Adjust your footwear. Wear breathable footwear with a wide toe box to keep your toes from crowding. Consider wearing open-toed sandals until the pain has subsided.
- Take an OTC pain reliever. Medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort caused by an ingrown toenail.
If these at-home remedies do not treat your condition, talk to your health care provider. Do not attempt to cut an ingrown toenail yourself, as this can lead to further damage or infection. Your doctor may be able to remove the ingrown toenail or raise the toenail to prevent it from growing into the soft skin around it.
If you have diabetes and are experiencing the symptoms of an ingrown toenail, seek medical attention. Poor blood flow to the feet can make them susceptible to serious infection. Because of this, it is recommended that you receive professional care to treat any injury to your foot.