Ingrown toenails are painful, unsightly, and supremely uncomfortable. No one wants them, but they seem to pop up anyway, throwing a wrench in our plans and causing no small degree of unpleasantness.
Ingrown toenails usually require treatment of some kind, but they can also be prevented, which is good news for us all. Here’s what you need to know to prevent ingrown toenails from happening and get treated for an ingrown toenail if one does plague you.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails: What to Do
There are many causes of ingrown toenails, and most can be helped. One cause you can’t help is heredity; you can inherit genes that make you more likely to have ingrown toenails.
But preventable causes of ingrown toenails include shoes that don’t fit properly, injury to your toes, not trimming your toenails or trimming them improperly, and having your toenails trimmed too much during a pedicure.
So, solutions for preventing ingrown toenails include doing the following:
- Wear shoes that fit; get them properly sized by an expert if necessary
- Be careful with your toes and avoid trauma to them as much as possible
- Trim your toenails, but be careful not to trim them too short, or at an angle
- Get a professional you trust when you get a pedicure
But let’s say you get an ingrown toenail anyway. What can you do about it?
Treating Ingrown Toenails: How to Take Care of the Problem
Before we talk about treatment, understand that simply ignoring an ingrown toenail isn’t a smart idea. An ingrown toenail can become infected if left to its own devices, and when that happens, it can turn into a serious problem. For diabetics, or those with compromised immune systems, an infection of your toe can be a very serious problem.
There are three common ways to treat an ingrown toenail, two of which you can do yourself.
- Soak the toenail: Place Epsom salts or a mild detergent into warm water and soak your toe in it three times a day for 20 minutes at a time.
- Remove the toenail: After soaking your feet like described above, take a nail trimmer and carefully clip the affected area. Make sure to apply antibiotic ointment once you’re finished.
- Visit a podiatrist: You may not have the means of taking care of the toenail itself, or it may become infected. At that point, you should see a podiatrist, who can remove the ingrown toenail for you.
Some people are afraid of visiting the podiatrist for an ingrown toenail, but the removal procedure is pretty straightforward and is done with local anesthetic, so pain is minimal. If you find a podiatrist you trust, you can get in and out without a hassle.
Dealing with Ingrown Toenails Permanently
The above treatment options won’t permanently remove the problem of recurring ingrown toenails. They can still happen. For that, we have a procedure called a matrixectomy.
During a matrixectomy, the podiatrist numbs your toe, removes the portion of the nail that is causing the problem, and then applies a chemical called phenol to kill the cells responsible for the nail. A matrixectomy can be a straightforward way of dealing with the problem if you have ingrown toenails that keep coming.
If you’re suffering from an ingrown toenail, help is available. Schedule an appointment with your podiatrist today and solve that annoying and painful problem once and for all.