Ingrown toenails are a common foot problem, but that doesn’t make them any less irritating! Just about anyone can get them, and they can seriously impact your quality of life if left untreated. Keep reading for some important information on how to spot an ingrown toenail and effective ways of treating ingrown toenails.
How to Tell if You Have an Ingrown Toenail
Due to the nature of an ingrown toenail, they can be difficult to spot. An ingrown toenail occurs when your toenail (usually on your big toe) grows underneath the skin instead of on top. The first thing you’ll want to look out for is pain or swelling on one “corner” of your toe, or either edge of your toenail. It might not be constant pain, but more subtle tenderness when the area is touched.
If left untreated, your mildly uncomfortable ingrown toenail might develop into a red, painful, and even infected problem.
Treating Ingrown Toenails at Home
Fortunately, only the most dire situations typically require surgery. Your podiatrist will be able to assess your situation to see what’s needed, but usually the sooner you come in the less likely something as drastic as surgery will be necessary. Realizing that you have an ingrown toenail before it becomes infected will go a long way in preventing this as well!
As soon as you think you might have an ingrown toenail, do these things:
Start soaking the affected foot three to four times a day. This will help soften the toenail as well as the skin surrounding it. When you aren’t soaking, be sure to keep your feet as dry as possible. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes with plenty of room for your toes—tight-fitting shoes are a very common cause of ingrown toenails. If you can, wear open-toe shoes until the problem clears up.
To help with the pain and swelling, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. If two or three days pass and you don’t see any improvement, it’s time to give your podiatrist a call.
Preventing Future Ingrown Toenails
This first tip might sound counterintuitive, but make sure you aren’t trimming your toenails too short. Keeping them a comfortable length and not clipping the sides shorter than the middle will help deter future ingrown toenails. Avoid wearing tight shoes or shoes that don’t leave enough room for your toes.
Sometimes, ingrown toenails are outside of our control! If you recently stubbed your toe, had it stepped on, or put your feet through a lot of physical activity, you might develop an ingrown toenail. In addition to these events, some people just have toenails that are too large for their toes. If this is the case, and you’re noticing chronic ingrown toenails, talk to your podiatrist about some more permanent treatment options.
Foot Specialists of Birmingham
If you’re experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort in your feet, it’s time to chat with a professional. Your feet are the foundation of your entire body, and they need to be taken care of! We’ll get you back on track and back to doing the things you love. Get in touch with Foot Specialists of Birmingham today to set up an appointment.