Pain and swelling around your toe and the inability to wear certain shoes might be signs of an ingrown toenail. It’s a common condition that you can sometimes take care of at home. But if the pain becomes unbearable, or you can see an infection in the tissue around your toenail, you may need to seek medical treatment.
Here at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers, our skilled podiatrists treat ingrown toenails to get rid of the infection and alleviate painful symptoms. To help you discern if your symptoms are beyond home remedies, we’ve put together this guide to help you identify when your ingrown toenail requires medical attention.
Ingrown toenails are a common condition
If you’ve ever had the corner or side of your toenail become red and inflamed, you’ve probably had an ingrown toenail. This common condition most often occurs when you cut your toenails too short, wear tight shoes, or stub your toe. Additionally, some people have toenails that naturally curve into the skin, making them more susceptible to ingrown toenails and infections.
While you can resolve most ingrown toenails on your own, if they become infected and the infection spreads, or if you have certain pre-existing health conditions, an ingrown toenail can become more serious than just an irritated toe.
Assess your symptoms
Ingrown toenails commonly occur in your big toe. Signs that you have an ingrown toenail include:
- Swollen, red skin on one side of the affected toenail
- Pain and tenderness in your toe
- Pain from the pressure of wearing shoes
- Overgrown skin at the tip of the toe or alongside the nail
- Blood or pus that leaks from the toenail or an open sore
If at first your symptoms are just uncomfortable, but not too serious, home remedies may alleviate your discomfort and prevent infection.
Try these home remedies
At first sign of an ingrown toenail, try these home remedies to reduce pain and swelling and to see if your ingrown nail will resolve on its own:
- Soak your toe in warm water for 15-20 minutes several times a day
- Apply antibiotic ointment to the toe and cover it with a bandage
- Wear sandals so there’s no pressure on your toe
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Avoid cutting the toenail
If your toe begins to feel better after a couple days with these solutions, you’re probably not at risk of the infection spreading or becoming debilitating. However, if your symptoms worsen, or get better at first, but then the pain and swelling return, it’s a good idea to seek medical treatment.
When to make an appointment with one of our podiatrists
When home remedies don’t work, or you have recurring ingrown toenails, it’s time to schedule an appointment with us. Your podiatrist at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers can determine what’s causing the recurring ingrown toenail and treat it accordingly.
If you have diabetes or a condition that causes poor circulation in your feet, you have a greater risk for an ingrown toenail becoming a serious medical problem. It’s especially important that you don’t wait to seek medical attention. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can lead to an infection or an abscess on your toe that may require surgical intervention. Or the infection can spread into the bone in your toe.
How a podiatrist treats your ingrown toenail
After careful examination and talking to you about your overall health and wellness, your podiatrist may be able to carefully lift your toenail to separate the nail from the skin. This helps your nail grow above the skin instead of into it.
In more severe cases, your doctor may need to remove some or all of your toenail. If necessary, your podiatrist may use a local anesthetic to numb your toe and remove the nail and a small area of skin that’s contributing to the problem.
To treat the infection, you may need to use a topical antibiotic or take one orally. If you’re prone to ingrown toenails or foot infections, your doctor will discuss preventive methods to minimize problems for you in the long term.
If you’re concerned about an ingrown toenail becoming a more serious health complication, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Arlington or Mansfield, Texas. Click the “book online” button or call us to get the medical attention you need in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.