When an Ingrown Toenail Requires Help From Your Podiatrist

An ingrown toenail sounds like a minor issue, but it can be a painful reminder of a toe you barely notice is there. Home remedies such as soaking the toe, trimming the nail correctly, and using antibiotic ointments can help ease the discomfort and prevent infection.

But if your strategies don’t relieve swelling and tenderness within a few days, get help from expert podiatrist David J. Kaplan, DPM, of Foot Care Specialists, serving patients in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California.

Waiting out a painful ingrown toenail and hoping it resolves on its own increases your risk of infection and further pain.

What causes an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails are quite common and occur when the side edge of your nail grows into your skin. Usually toenails grow straight out from the nail bed, but if the front edge or side curves – it causes the ingrowth.

An ingrown toenail may develop from many causes, including: 

Ingrown toenails most often develop on the big toe, but really any toenail can grow awkwardly into the skin.

Can I manage an ingrown toenail at home?

Start treating your ingrown toenail when you first notice mild symptoms. You may notice slight swelling or minor discomfort. Resist the urge to ignore these signs because early care reduces the risk of infection and the need for podiatric intervention.

When you notice the beginning of an ingrown toenail, we recommend at-home treatments, such as:

Home treatments should not include bathroom surgery — when you cut your nail or nail bed to restore normal growth of the toenail. Usually, this step makes your toenail problems worse.

When should I see a podiatrist for my ingrown toenail?

If your ingrown toenail fails to improve within two to three days of at-home care or your symptoms worsen, contact us so we can help. If your toenail is showing signs of infection, you should also contact our office.

Suspect infection if you experience:

If you have diabetes or certain other medical conditions, you’re more prone to infection.

In these cases, it’s best to seek podiatric care at the first signs of an ingrown toenail.

Can I prevent an ingrown toenail?

Some people are just more likely to develop an ingrown toenail due to their genetics, but improper nail trimming is the most common cause of ingrown toenails, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Reduce your risk of developing a painful ingrown toenail by:

Check your feet regularly for ingrown toenails, too. Ingrown toenails should be treated as soon as they become a noticeable problem. 

If you need treatment for an ingrown toenail, we’re here to help. Just call our office or request an appointment online for ingrown toenail care or any other foot or ankle issues that arise.

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