An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail curves down and grows into the skin of the toe. It usually happens on the big toe and can be the result of several factors, including improper nail clipping, tight shoes, a toe injury or Diabetes. A toe injury includes stubbing your toe, having something fall on your toe or engaging in sports that involve running and kicking. For many people, an ingrown toenail is hereditary or innate.
Having a nail digging into the skin causes irritation and can lead to infection. Symptoms include swelling, redness and pain in the toe. Your toe may even feel warmer than the rest of your body. You may notice puss and a distinct odor as well. If your toenail is not infected, you can take the following measures to treat and prevent ingrown toenails in the future. If your ingrown toenail is not better after several days, see a doctor.
Treating ingrown toenails that have not been infected
· Clean the infected area very often and frequently. Apply an antiseptic, such as peroxide, to the trouble area.
· To reduce swelling, soak your feet in a foot basin filled with lukewarm water and Epsom salt. Massage the ingrown toenail. Soak feet at least twice daily.
· Trim your nails properly. Never cut your nails too short. This causes the nail to curve down into your skin. Instead, cut your nail straight across.
· Avoid shoes that are too tight. This applies pressure to the nail. Shoes should fit comfortably.
· Keep your feet dry. If your shoes are always damp due to excess sweating or engaging in water activities, dry your feet regularly. Exposing your ingrown toenail to constant moisture weakens the nail making it more susceptible to bending and curving.
If your ingrown toenail has already led to infection, or if you suffer from a medical condition, such as Diabetes or poor foot circulation, you will have to see a doctor. Your doctor may suggest antibiotics, surgery or removal of the nail. If your doctor decides that surgery is the best option, there will be a minor operation to remove part of or the entire nail as necessary.