Swelling, reddened flesh, shooting pain, and pus are just some of the incredibly uncomfortable symptoms of having an ingrown toenail. Although this condition can sometimes be successfully treated through home remedies, ingrown toenails often progress to the point of infection, a point that then requires professional treatment. Read on to learn what causes this problem, when it’s right to seek medical help, and how our podiatrists can help get your foot back to a healthy state!
The Causes and Symptoms
Before we cover how to treat ingrown toenails, let’s first review the core causes and symptoms that hallmark this condition…
Ingrown toenails initially develop due to a few different factors, including:
- Cutting the toenail too short
- Rounding the toenail during grooming
- Wearing improperly fitting shoes
- Experiencing toe trauma
If the flesh on the side of the toe has become red, swollen, and tender, you likely have an ingrown toenail. If you have caught this problem while it’s still in its early stages, you can try implementing some of the home remedies listed in the next section. However, if your toe is exhibiting some of the following signs of infection, you should seek professional podiatric help:
- Pervasive shooting or throbbing toe pain
- Regular bleeding
- The presence of a pus-filled blister
- The skin has started growing over the nail
As mentioned above, if an ingrown toenail is caught before infection sets in, there are a few different methods that you can practice at home in order to clear up the issue. Some of these include:
- Around 3 to 4 times a day, submerge your foot into warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Regularly doing this should reduce swelling and provide pain relief.
- Following each soaking, use cotton to separate the ingrown toenail from the flesh that it is starting to grow under. This should allow the nail to grow above the skin again.
- Avoid snug or constraining shoes.
If these actions fail to clear up the problem in 2 to 3 days, you should pursue professional treatment.
In the case of a severe or recurring infection, there are a few different procedures that your podiatrist can perform to make your toe healthy again. Depending on the specifics of your ingrown toenail, one of the following treatments may be recommended:
- Partial Nail Removal: In the case of a severe ingrown toenail, your doctor can numb your toe before physically removing the ingrown portion of the nail.
- Nail and Tissue Removal: If the same toe is repeatedly experiencing the same ingrown toenail problem, this procedure can be performed to prevent future recurrences. It entails your podiatrist removing a portion of the underlying nail bed, thus preventing the nail from become ingrown again.
Concerned About Your Toe? Give Us a Call!
If your ingrown toenail needs medical attention, call our podiatric office today!
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel pain
- Ankle sprains and fractures
- Foot fractures
- Sports-related injuries
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Corns and calluses
- Diabetic foot care
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Heel spurs
An unexpected fall or twist can result in an injury of the foot or ankle, such as a sprain or strain. Immediate first aid can help prevent complications, reduce pain and improve recovery.
Rest, ice, compression and elevation--commonly referred to as R.I.C.E.--is the first and best treatment for minor injuries. The following tips can aid in the early treatment of common foot and ankle injuries to help reduce swelling and control the inflammatory process during the initial phase of injury.
Rest: Whether you have a strain or a sprain, rest from any physical activity is essential to protecting your injured ligaments, tendons or muscles from further damage while your body starts the repair process. Avoid putting weight on the injured foot or ankle as much as possible. In some cases, complete immobilization may be required.
Ice: Gently ice your foot or ankle with ice wrapped in a towel in a 20-minute-on, 40-minute-off cycle for the first few days post-injury. Ice is excellent at reducing inflammation and pain.
Compression: Applying some type of compressive wrap or bandage to an injured area can greatly reduce the amount of initial swelling.
Elevation: Prop your foot up while lying down or sitting so that it is higher than or equal to the level of the heart.
After a few days of R.I.C.E., many acute injuries will begin to heal. If pain or swelling does not subside after a few days, or if you are unsure of the severity of your injury, make an appointment with your podiatrist. A skilled podiatrist can properly diagnose your injury and recommend the best course of treatment.
Your feet play a crucial role in your health when you have diabetes. Although you may have been able to ignore small scratches or burst blisters in the past, overlooking these seemingly minor foot issues can lead to serious infections if you've been diagnosed with diabetes. The podiatrists at Family Foot and Ankle Center in Fairfax, Ashburn, McLean, and Reston, VA, treat diabetes-related foot conditions and can help you minimize your risk of complications.
The importance of foot care
Daily self-exams can help you spot sores and injuries and prevent problems. For example, if you notice a red spot on the side of your foot, you can avoid a blister by choosing roomier shoes that don't rub against your feet.
It's particularly important to conduct self-exams if you have nerve damage due to diabetic neuropathy. When you can't feel your feet, you won't experience pain or discomfort and may not even realize that there's a problem until your foot is infected.
Diabetes slows healing time and makes it difficult to treat infections. If the infection doesn't respond well to antibiotics, you may even lose your foot or part of your leg. Practicing self-care and visiting your foot doctor in Fairfax, Ashburn, McLean, or Reston, VA, at the first sign of trouble can help you protect your feet and your health.
When should I call the podiatrist?
Make an appointment with your foot doctor if you notice any of these signs or symptoms:
- Open sores
- Red, swollen sores or cuts
- Pus on your skin
- Corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails (attempting to treat these conditions at home can lead to infections.)
- Red streaks on your skin
- Pain or numbness in your feet
- Change in temperature (Your feet feel abnormally hot or cold.)
- Blue, black or white skin
Prompt treatment of infections is crucial if you have diabetes, for swift attention can help you avoid hospital stays and any potentially deadly complications of the disease.
Concerned? Give us a call!
Have you noticed any of these signs and symptoms? Schedule an appointment with the podiatrists at Family Foot and Ankle Center by calling (703) 273-9818 for the Fairfax, VA, office, (703) 723-9267 for the Ashburn office, (703) 556-8637 for the McLean office or (703) 723-2719 for the Reston office.
Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist
- Wear shoes that fit well
- Wear proper shoes for each activity
- Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
- Prepare properly before exercising by stretching and warming up
- Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities
- Don’t underestimate your body’s need for rest and good nutrition
- Lose excess weight
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