What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is defined as a nail growing directly into your skin. When it gets more severe, the nail will pierce the skin and create an infection. The skin around the ingrown toenail will be red, swollen and quite painful to touch.

What causes ingrown toenails?

A nail shape can genetically have a tendency to curve in, hereby creating an ingrown toenail with time. Also, tight shoes create more compression around the nail, causing with time the nail to curve inside in order to grow away from the compression forces.

Cutting can also be a factor. It is important to know that when you try to dig inside the side of your nail to cut the corner out, the nail changes shape. By repetitively cutting your nail short, you are putting yourself at risk of creating an ingrown toenail.

Nails also respond poorly to excessive friction. Aside from tight shoes, if you have a tendency to have sweaty feet, it increases the friction around your toenail.

How to treat ingrown toenails?

Your podiatrist has all the tools to treat an ingrown toenail. It is best to let a professional do this than to attempt anything at home.

1. Reshaping your nail

Your podiatrist is trained to cut your nail in a way that not only solves your current ingrown toenail but leaves your nail with a shape that will not have the same tendency to create an ingrown toenail.

2. Minor surgery

Your podiatrist can perform a small surgery to treat an ingrown toenail. It is a permanent solution to a recurrent problem. After this procedure, pain is minimal and the ingrown toenail will not regrow again. It is good to know that only a small portion of the nail is taken out. This way, the aesthetic appearance of your nail is easily preserved.

3. Treating the infection

The best treatment for an infected ingrown toenail is to take out the piece of nail causing the infection. In addition to that, your podiatrist can also prescribe medication to treat the infection caused by your infected ingrown toenail.

How to treat ingrown toenails at home?

The best thing to do at home is to leave your ingrown toenail alone and seek the help of a podiatrist. Your podiatrist has all the tools to solve your ingrown toenail painlessly and permanently.

Stop cutting corners

If you are digging in the side of your toenail in order to cut away the painful corner, it can provide temporary relief. However, as your nail re-grows, it will create a deeper ingrown toenail. This will force you to cut deeper in order to get the painful corner out. This vicious cycle makes your ingrown toenail worse every single time you cut your nail.

Soak your foot

For an infected ingrown toenail, soak your toe in a salt water bath (2 tablespoons of table salt to every cup of lukewarm water). Do NOT attempt this with bleach, which can be harmful to your skin. Saltwater will help your swelling go down and lower your pain. Also, apply an antibiotic cream (not an ointment) on your infected ingrown toenail daily.

Cut your nail straight

Keep your nails straight and refrain from cutting the corners round or digging on the side of the nail. As long as the corners of the nails are visible, they cannot grow inside the skin and create an ingrown toenail.

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