Experts debate how necessary toenails are for our modern life. Fingernails can help to grasp objects, but the nails down by your feet don't seem to have much use anymore. If anything, they merely provide an avenue for issues like fungal infections and ingrown toenail conditions.
No matter the value they do or do not bring, sometimes, we must deal with toenail problems. When this happens, it's important to address them at the earliest opportunity.
An ingrown toenail condition often sees the side or corner of a nail growing into the soft flesh that surrounds it. This can lead to such symptoms as pain, swelling, redness, and even a potential infection. If you notice pus or redness that spreads, or have severe pain in the area, it is important to make an appointment with our Centerville office for the professional treatment you need!
Whereas an ingrown nail can technically happen to any of the toes, it is most likely to be experienced by the big toe or, to a less extent, the little toe.
There are several common causes for nails that become ingrown, including:
- Inherited structure – Nails that are unusually curved are more likely to become ingrown than those that feature a more typical shape.
- Physical trauma – Dropping something heavy onto your foot increases your risk of developing this condition. Another source of physical trauma is accidentally kicking a hard surface, which helps explain why the toes on the edges of the foot have a greater risk factor than the middle ones.
- Improper nail trimming – Patients who trim their nails too short or round them off have a greater rate of ingrown toenail occurrence than do those who clip them straight and keep the nails even with the edges of their toes.
- Ill-fitting footwear – Shoes that fit poorly create or contribute to a hose of issues, including this one. Footwear that is too tight crowd the toes together, which makes it more likely that ingrowing will take place.
The best place to start with ingrowing toenails is with home care. Using the following steps may provide the relief you seek:
- Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes in warm water to soften the nail tissue. This will also help relieve tenderness and can reduce swelling.
- After the soaking, place fresh bits of waxed dental floss or cotton under the edge that has become ingrown.
- Use antibiotic cream or ointment on the tender area and then properly bandage the affected toe.
When home treatment is insufficient, professional treatment options can include lifting the nail, partial nail removal and, for recurring cases, even removing the affected nail and tissue altogether.
You might think removing a toenail would be painful, but this is not something to worry about. Anesthesia is used to numb the area prior to the procedure.
Once we have removed the nail, we will likely perform a special procedure to keep the toenail from growing back. The reason is simply to prevent the provlem from repeatedly occurring. We don't want you to have the same discomfort and pain over and over again, so we can take measures to keep the nail matrix unable to generate new nail tissue (as it usually would). This procedure is permanent.
After your surgery, your nail will be covered with antibacterial ointment and gauze. It is very important to follow all our post-operative instructions, and especially ones for keeping the wound clean.
Any operation presents its own unique set of potential risks. It's important to understand what to expect both during the procedure and during the healing period. A toenail removal is done on an outpatient basis, meaning you may leave the same say. You should be prepared to have someone drive you to and from the appointment. You will probably be able to put pressure on your feet, but it may be uncomfortable for a bit.
Prevention is much better than having to treat a condition, especially when the steps are relatively east and straightforward. For ingrown nails, this entails:
- Proper nail trimming – Always clipping your nails straight across, instead of rounding them off, and keeping them even with the edge of the toes.
- Footwear that fit – When buying shoes for yourself of loved ones, making sure they are not tight in the front and have enough room that toes can wiggle freely. Protecting your feet – If your job requires frequently moving heavy items, investing in a pair of safety shoes or steel-tipped work boots.
If you require professional care for a problem case of ingrown toenails, give Sunshein Podiatry Associates a call at (937) 435-7477. You can also use our online form to schedule your appointment with the friendly staff here at our Centerville, OH office.