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!
Does this sound like you? Your feet hurt almost all the time, activity makes things worse, and you want to get to the bottom of it all. At Providence Foot Health Center in Washington D.C., your podiatrist, Dr. James Mintzer, provides excellent podiatric care. His careful hands-on examinations, gait analysis, and modern imaging provide treatment options which really work—read on to find out more!
Common sources of foot pain
Injury, structural problems, overuse, and diseases such as diabetes often account for many cases of foot pain. Other factors which contribute to foot and ankle discomfort are age, obesity, unsupportive footwear, and high heels.
If you're experiencing consistent foot pain, contact your podiatrist in Washington D.C. for a consultation. He may uncover a podiatric medical problem, such as:
- Bunion: a bulging deformity of the big toe joint
- Plantar fasciitis: an inflammatory condition of the connective tissue crossing the bottom of the foot (with associated heel spurs)
- Corns and calluses: overgrowths of skin on the toes and other areas of the foot
- Ingrown toenail: an intrusion of the nail into the surrounding skin
- Hammertoes: deformed toe joints
- Metatarsalgia: an inflammation of the ball of the foot
- Morton's neuroma: a benign growth affecting the third and fourth toes of either foot
- Sprains and strains (ankle sprains are the most frequent)
- Stress fractures from overuse
- Flat feet (fallen arches)
Treatments for your foot pain
A one-on-one consultation with Dr. Mintzer will uncover the reasons for your foot pain and give you the tools that you need to stay balanced, pain-free, and active. You can reduce your symptoms of pain, redness, swelling, and more with at-home interventions, such as:
- Quality footwear with low heels
- Customized shoe orthotics (inserts)
- Splints, particularly for plantar fasciitis
- Elevation of your feet
- Ice or heat as your podiatrist advises
- In-office ingrown toenail removal (usually a partial removal)
- In-office removal of corns and calluses (at-home removal is never recommended particularly for diabetics and other infection-prone patients)
- Over the counter analgesics
- Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
- Physical therapy, including stretching exercises
Better feet, better you
That's our aim here at Providence Foot Health Center. Call today for your appointment: (202) 269-4062.
- 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.
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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