When it comes to foot health, ingrown toenails are a relatively minor problem but they are certainly capable of causing major pain! At North Jersey Podiatry we have also seen patients attempt some remedies that can be downright dangerous, so we’d like to offer some do’s and don’ts when it comes to treating and preventing ingrown toenails.
DO: start with good nail care—the number one cause of ingrown toenails? Improper nail care. Always trim nails straight across. Curved edges can encourage a nail to grow down and into the skin. Avoid trimming nails too short as well. When a nail is very short the skin surrounding the nail can start to grow over the nail, leaving it nowhere to go but into the skin around the nail bed.
DO: recognize the signs of infection—one of the biggest concerns with ingrown toenails is that once the skin is penetrated by the nail, it opens the door for bacteria to enter and cause an infection. An ingrown toenail that is infected will be red, swollen and warm to the touch. It will be incredibly painful and tender and may have pus or other discharge in the area. An infection can pose a particularly severe threat for patients with diabetes and those who have a weakened immune system or have had joint replacement procedures.
DON’T: make the wrong footwear choices—when toes spend considerable time pressed tightly together, it can encourage the development of an ingrown toenail. Avoid wearing shoes that are too small for your feet and high heels that force the toes forward and together.
DON’T: fall for old wives’ tales—cutting a notch out of a nail that repeatedly becomes ingrown, sticking a piece of cotton under the nail or trimming the border of a nail shorter and shorter are just a few of the ways we’ve seen patients try to self-treat an ingrown toenail. Unfortunately, when we see them it’s because they now have a worse injury or an infection caused by these so-called “cures.”
DO: let the foot doctor safely eliminate an ingrown toenail problem. Our podiatrist, Dr. Paul G. Klein, can perform a safe and relatively painless procedure in the office that will remove the affected portion of the nail border and do away with the root to prevent an ingrown nail from recurring. To learn more, contact our Wayne, New Jersey office by calling: 973-595-1555.