How to treat and prevent ingrown toenails

December 8, 2014

Your toe is red, puffy and painful? Onychocryptosis is the word used by health professionals to refer to this problem that affects one out of 20 people. If you’re wondering how to treat your ingrown toenail, take heart. There are some simple steps you can take at home to get you and your toe back into your running shoes and on the right track.

When your nail does things its own way

An ingrown toenail is characterized by an inflammation of the nail groove, along the outside of the nail on the big toe. It occurs when the nail edge starts growing into the skin of the toe. It may sometimes become infected and hot to the touch and there may be some pus in the wound.

The root of the problem

Many factors can cause an ingrown toenail, including badly trimmed nails, taking certain medications and poor foot hygiene. Unless genetic factors are involved, the culprit is likely tight-fitting shoes. Stilettoes, ballerina flats or other tight shoes tend to put pressure on the toes. Under pressure, the nail starts to grow into the flesh of the toe, and then you have the beginning of a long ordeal.

How to treat an ingrown toenail

As soon as you notice the onset of symptoms, soak your feet in salt water for a few minutes a day to relieve pain. These foot baths are beneficial, as they also help clean the wound. When your feet are dry, you can start your procedure. The goal — it may not be pleasant but it can be done — is to remove the nail edge from the skin and gently place a piece of cotton ball under the ingrown edge. Apply antibiotic ointment where it hurts every day until it’s healed. Most importantly, let your toe heal by wearing well-aerated, loose-fitting shoes.

Toes deserve some pampering

If you’ve already had to treat an ingrown toenail, there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again. It is advisable to take some preventive measures so the problem doesn’t become chronic:

  • Always wear comfortable, wide shoes,.
  • Don’t trim your nails too short. Cut them straight across rather than giving them rounded edges. Nail care experts recommend using nail scissors to trim your toenails instead of nail clippers.

You need some further treatment?

In case of a recurrence or an infection that won’t go away, you should see your doctor. It’s possible to have a short surgical procedure done by an orthopedic surgeon or dermatologist to treat an ingrown toenail. It may involve removing a portion of the nail or excising the matrix, which produces the nail. It’s a minor procedure and soon you’ll be back on your feet again.

How to treat and prevent ingrown toenails
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