Ingrown toenails may seem like nothing more than an annoyance when they appear; however, without treatment, they can become very painful and impact a person’s mobility—with particularly troublesome cases requiring surgery.
How do they occur?
The condition begins when the edges of the toenail burrow/grow into the surrounding skin—most likely, involving your big toe. Poor foot hygiene can see bacteria enter the natural skin channels that guide the growth of the nail and cause them to become inflamed; any ensuing infection can be exacerbated by ill-fitting shoes and additional pressure on the feet.
The nail bed and surrounding skin can become filled with pus or fluid, which can prove painful. Inflammation can also force the nail to grow even more awkwardly i.e. further into the skin.
Though an ingrown toenail can occur at any time, there are some reasons as to why they appear:
Cutting your toenails incorrectly. When trimming your toenails, always cut them straight across. Don’t be tempted to cut them in an arched shape, like your fingernails, as this could encourage the sides of the nail to grow into the cuticles.
Ill-fitting shoes. If you choose shoes that are on the small side, not only will they be more uncomfortable than footwear that fits properly, the lack of space and extra pressure could cause the nail to grow inwards.
Damage to the foot. Though likely to be accidental, dropping something heavy on your foot or stubbing your toes could result in an ingrown toenail.
Poor posture. Simply changes to your posture could redistribute the pressure to your feet and prevent more stress and tension in the toe area.
Genetics. Some people are just genetically predisposed to suffer from ingrown toenails, unfortunately. Also, some diseases, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, can increase the risk of one occurring.
How to treat an ingrown toenail
If you have the condition, treatment can begin at home (though the effectiveness of self-care may differ from person to person). Resting the feet, of course, will alleviate the pressure and swelling; however, this may not always be possible.
One way to ease the inflammation and reduce the pain is to soak your feet on a regular basis—a few times each day. Add a little salt to warm water to combat the infection. Afterwards, dry your feet carefully but thoroughly and apply a sterile dressing. Wearing a clean pair of socks every day will also reduce the likelihood of infection/inflammation of the skin and nails. Excessive sweat can make the skin softer than usual, which could see the nail penetrate it more easily.
Cut your nails regularly. This may be difficult for the elderly or people with restricted mobility; if this is the case, enlist the help of Treat Your Feet who will happily carry out this type of care. Not only will we be able to physically do the job, we’re also trained to cut the nail to ensure healthy growth.
Signs that a nail maybe ingrowing
If your toenail(s) looks a little red or swollen around the edges, this could be a sign that there is an infection and/or a build-up of extra fluid under the skin. Obviously, you will feel any pain rather than see it; remove your shoes and socks to reduce pressure on the toe—and try to avoid being on your feet.
Arrange an appointment with your G.P. as soon as possible; however, they may only treat the infection with antibiotics and leave the toenail to sort itself out, which is unlikely to happen without help. Treat Your Feet will address the nail and either cut or remove it to alleviate your pain.