Your nails are more than just adornments for the ends of your toes. They help protect your digits from trauma you may incur while walking or running. Generally they are very effective, too—but sometimes, the nails themselves can be the source of serious discomfort. One of the common nail problems that occurs is ingrown toenails.
What Is It?
Ingrown toenails are a painful condition that affects the nail shape and growth. The edges of the nail tissue begin to grow sideways or even curl, pushing a corner against the soft skin of your toe around the outside of the nail. The more the nail grows and pinches or even pierces the skin, the more irritated the area becomes. The affected spot reddens, swells, and becomes increasingly painful and at risk for infection the longer it goes untreated.
Many factors can cause this uncomfortable nail growth, though poorly-fitted shoes and incorrectly trimmed nails are the most common culprits. Tight shoes press on the ends of the toes and can influence the nails to grow abnormally. Nails that aren’t trimmed well also risk unusual tissue formation. However, other factors can cause the condition, too. Trauma to the ends of the toe and congenital issues can result in nails that curl and pinch.
How Do I Fix It?
Fortunately, most ingrown toenails can be treated quickly and easily by a professional here at Country Foot Care, relieving your discomfort and letting you return to your activities pain-free. Our doctors will evaluate the nail to see how severely it has become ingrown and if there is a possible infection. Then they are able to work with you to determine the best path forward for treatment to fit your needs. For mildly ingrown nails, the doctors may be able to lift the nail free of the skin. Many nails, however, will need to be carefully trimmed and have the offending edge excised.
If nail surgery is necessary, the doctors will numb the toe and carefully cut away the damaged portions. The doctors will then clean the nail bed and treat any infected tissue. If the condition is a recurring problem, our doctors may recommend that all or part of the nail be removed and the tissue stunted so that it does not regrow and continue to cause pain. Once the condition is cared for, you may need to adjust your shoes and trimming habits to accommodate your toes. Longer shoes with wider toe boxes do not cramp the ends of your feet. Nails should be clipped straight across so the edges are left intact, making them less likely to curl.
Don’t Let It Go Untreated
If an ingrown nail is ignored, you could be flirting with additional problems.
Onychia and Paronychia are types of infections that can set in. Onychia affects the actual nail, causing it to become inflamed along with its surrounding tissues. Paronychia is when these tissues themselves become infected where the nail meets the skin, resulting in inflammation and sometimes abscesses.
The skin at the base of your nail will redden and swell. It is typically painful, especially if abscesses form beneath the nail and eventually lift it. If the cause of the infection is bacterial, these symptoms will appear suddenly; if it is fungal, you will notice more gradual signs.
It is important to seek treatment for onychia and paronychia as soon as symptoms appear. Although rare, the infection can spread and result in permanent damage. However, treating your ingrown toenail from the start will prevent this additional problem from occurring at all.
If the ends of your toes are painful and swollen, keeping you from comfortably wearing your favorite shoes or participating in your regular activities, you may have developed ingrown toenails. The condition will only worsen the longer you allow your nail to grown incorrectly. Rather than suffer, contact the experts at Country Foot Care and restore your toes to their natural pain-free state. Schedule an appointment today, either by calling during regular office hours or by using the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page, so that we can help you move pain-free down the road.