Painful ingrown toenails affect most people at some time. In fact, 18 percent of people over 21 develop the condition in the course of a year, according to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health. Your Columbus, OH, podiatrists Dr. Steventon Wagner and Dr. Lynette Mehl treat ingrown toenails and many other foot and ankle conditions.
What causes ingrown toenails?
Ingrown toenails happen so gradually that you may not be aware that there's a problem until you notice a pain in your toe one day. The toenail cutting method you use may be responsible for your ingrown nail. If you round the nails instead of cutting them straight across, it's much easier for the edges to grow into the skin.
Other causes of ingrown toenails include:
- Fungal Infections: Fungal infections thicken your nails, increasingly the likelihood that they'll grow into the skin.
- Thick Nails: Thicker nails can be caused by reasons other than fungal infections. You may have naturally thick nails or may notice that your nails have thickened as you've gotten older.
- Curved Nails: If your nails curve downward, they're more likely to become ingrown.
- Tight Shoes and Socks: Constant pressure on your toes from tight shoes and socks can drive the nails into the skin.
- Injuries: Did you first notice ingrown toenail symptoms after you dropped a heavy can on your foot or stubbed your toe? Your injury may be responsible for your condition.
How are ingrown toenails treated?
You may be able to free your nail at home if you spot the problem soon enough. Soak your foot in warm soapy water three or four times per day, then gently insert a piece of cotton or waxed dental floss under the nail to lift it out of the skin. Keep floss or cotton under the nail until it grows out.
If the nail won't budge, don't force it. If you do, you may injure your toe and increase the risk of infection. Call your Columbus foot doctor if you can't free your nail yourself, you have diabetes, or you've noticed signs of an infection, such as redness, warmth, pus or red streaks on your skin.
Your podiatrist will use a topical anesthetic to numb your toe, then remove the part of the nail that's trapped. You may also need to take an antibiotic if your nail is infected. If ingrown toenails are a frequent problem, permanent removal of the nail may be recommended.
Are you concerned about an ingrown toenail? Make an appointment with your Columbus, OH, podiatrists Dr. Steventon Wagner and Dr. Lynette Mehl at (614) 488-9478 to make an appointment.