An ingrown toenail may seem like a minor annoyance, but the problem can lead to a serious infection if you aren't successful in treating it at home. Our Columbus, OH, podiatrists, Dr. Steventon Wagner and Dr. Lynette Mehl of University Foot Center, share information about ingrown toenails and explain when it's time to call the foot doctor.
What causes ingrown toenails?
The way you cut your toenails can increase your risk of the condition. Some people prefer to round the edges of their nails to improve the appearance and prevent the nails from snagging on sheets and socks. Unfortunately, rounding the edges of your nails makes it easy for them to grow into the skin. Cutting your toenails straight across can help prevent the condition.
Ingrown toenails are more likely to occur if you wear tight shoes or socks that exert pressure on your toes, driving the nails into the surrounding skin. If your toenails are highly curved, they may tend to grow into the skin no matter how carefully you cut them.
When can I treat an ingrown toenail at home?
Ingrown toenails can often be freed from the skin during the earliest stages. If you notice that your nail is growing into your skin, soak your foot in warm water for about 15 minutes, then place a small piece of cotton under the nail. The cotton will lift the nail out of the skin. Keep a piece of cotton under the nail while it grows out.
If you can't free your nail using the cotton method, don't try to force it. Call the podiatrist instead. If you do try to rip the edge of the nail from the skin, you may develop an infection in your toe.
People who have diabetes should never attempt to treat an ingrown toenail at home. Because the disease increases your risk of serious foot infections, it's important to receive medical treatment to prevent complications.
If you notice any signs of infection, whether you have diabetes or not, call our Columbus office as soon as possible. Signs of infection include severe pain, pus and red streaks on the toe.
How do foot doctors treat ingrown toenails?
In many cases, the problem can be treated with a minor, in-office procedure that involves cutting and removing the section at the edge of the nail. If you have frequent ingrown toenails, you may benefit from a nail removal procedure.
Worried about an ingrown toenail or other foot or ankle problem? Call our Columbus, OH, podiatrists, Dr. Wagner and Dr. Mehl, of University Foot Center at (614) 488-9478 to schedule an appointment.