It is funny how the smallest things in life can sometimes be treacherous. You may notice a twinge in your big toenail after taking off your shoes and not think much of it—until your ingrown nail gets worse. Then the slightest bump against your swollen and painful skin can make you yelp. You also risk an infection that can spread beyond your toe and cause serious problems. Understanding this may convince you to seek help sooner rather than later for this “small” problem.
Why Nails Grow into Your Skin
One reason for ingrown nails is heredity. You may have a nail shape that naturally curves down and in. Your foot structure and the way you walk (also inherited characteristics) can lead to extra pressure at the edges of the nail as well, causing them to dig into the surrounding skin.
The problem can happen simply because your shoes don’t fit correctly. Any shoe that is too narrow or tight at the front forces the nail into the skin. If you notice pain only after wearing certain shoes, it’s time to get rid of them and opt for a roomier pair. A nail injury or fungal infection can also lead to problems with ingrowing.
Even the way you trim your nails can make a difference. Cutting them too short and clipping off the corners into a rounded shape increases your risk. You should cut them straight across and leave them a little long—to the edge of your toe is best.
What to Do for Ingrown Nails
Home treatment for ingrown toenails may help and can be tried as long as you do not have diabetes, a circulation or nerve issue, or an infection. These complications make home care unwise, as infection can easily spread and lead to serious complications.
Otherwise, you can try a warm-water soak to help reduce inflammation. While the nail is soft, you could try lifting it slightly and putting a tiny bit of cotton under the edge to encourage it to grow straighter. You could help prevent infection with the use of an antibiotic cream on the affected skin. Choosing roomier shoes, wearing open toe styles, or even going without them around the house could also relieve pressure on your toe.
Please do not try to cut away the offending nail yourself! This type of “home surgery” can end up causing more problems and greatly increases the risk of infection.
Get Help from South Bay Podiatrists
Chronic problems with ingrown nails require medical treatment to take care of the problem for good. We may try trimming the nail, but removing the small part of it that keeps growing into the skin is usually the best and longest-lasting treatment. We can treat the root of the nail so that section does not grow out again.
To schedule an appointment to have your problem nail looked at and taken care of, call Far West Podiatric Medical Group in Hawthorne, CA at (310) 675-0900. We serve patients from the entire South Bay area, including Inglewood, El Segundo, Redondo Beach, Gardena, and Hermosa Beach, and you can request an appointment right here while you are online.