Your Painful Toe Could Be An Ingrown Nail – Here Are A Few Things To Know

If the corner of your big toe is red and very sore, you might have an ingrown nail. This condition is very painful, and the discomfort can last for a long time as you wait for the nail to grow out. The pain makes it uncomfortable to wear shoes, and you may even have difficulty walking or standing for long periods. Even worse, the nail may develop an infection that requires antibiotics. You can avoid all these complications by getting your ingrown nail treated promptly. Here are a few things to know about why you got an ingrown nail, how to treat it, and how to keep it from coming back.

The Cause Of Ingrown Nails

If you've had problems with ingrown nails all your life, you may have an abnormality in the shape of your toe that encourages them to develop. However, a much more common cause is rounding your nails when you trim them. When you cut your toenails, you always want to leave the edges slightly above the edge of your skin. If you make the corners rounded, they will burrow into your skin as the nail grows out.

If you wear shoes with a narrow toe area that squeezes your toes together, there is an even higher risk of your nail growing into your skin. If you have the habit of ripping off your toenails rather than cutting them off, there is a high risk of tearing the nail too deep. Then when the nail grows out, it grows into the skin. If you keep your nails above the skin line at all times, you can usually avoid getting an ingrown nail.

The Treatment For An Ingrown Toenail

If you treat the nail as soon as you notice pain, you may be able to lift the nail slightly and hold it above the skin with a splint. You'll need to keep the splint in place until the nail has grown past your skin so the risk of it burrowing into your flesh has passed. You may be able to do this treatment at home, but since ingrown nails are usually very painful, it's easier to let your doctor do it. He or she can apply an anesthetic to your toe if necessary.

If the nail has already dug into your skin, the doctor may need to cut it out. In serious cases, the doctor may need to cut away part of the toenail. If you have constant problems with ingrown nails, the doctor may remove your toenail completely. It's a good idea to see a doctor for treatment of your condition in case you need antibiotics to fight or ward off an infection in your toe. Also, if you have diabetes, you should see your doctor at the very first sign of an ingrown nail since diabetics have difficulty fighting off infections in their feet due to poor circulation.

The Prevention Of Future Problems

Once you've recovered from your painful condition, you won't want it to come back. The two best ways to prevent that are to wear shoes that fit properly and to trim your nails in the right way. Your shoes should never press your toes at the sides or tips. If you want to wear heels with narrow toes, wear them occasionally, and make sure your everyday shoes give your toes plenty of room.

When you trim your nails, cut them straight across. Make sure the edges are just above the skin line. If you do happen to cut your nail too deep, then you can still prevent it from growing into your skin by pulling the skin away from the nail frequently until the nail grows out. Contact a business, such as Lincoln Park Podiatry, for more information.