An ingrown toenail happens when the edges or corners of the nail grow into the skin next to the nail and break the skin.
Ingrown toenails can usually be treated at home, but if the pain is severe or spreading, it may be necessary to see a health care provider, to prevent complications and relieve symptoms.
People with poor circulation, such as those with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, are more likely to have complications.
Here his what you can do at home:
- Soak your feet in warm water. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes three to four times a day. Soaking reduces swelling and relieves tenderness.
- Place cotton or dental floss under your toenail. After each soaking, put fresh bits of cotton or waxed dental floss under the ingrown edge. This will help the nail grow above the skin edge.
- Apply antibiotic cream. Put antibiotic ointment on the tender area and bandage the toe.
- Choose sensible footwear. Consider wearing open-toed shoes or sandals until your toe feels better.
- Take pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease the toe pain.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) advise seeing a doctor rather than using over the counter (OTC) medications, as these may mask the pain, but they will not solve the problem.
The patient should see a doctor if:
- they have diabetes or a circulatory problem
- symptoms do not go away
- an infection develops
Severe cases of an ingrown toenail may require surgery. This is a minor procedure that involves removing the part of the nail that is ingrown. Before surgery, the doctor will numb your toe by injecting it with medicine. First, they cut your toenail along the edge that is growing into your skin. Then, they pull out the piece of nail. The doctor may apply a small electrical charge or liquid solution to the exposed part of your nail bed. This is called ablation. It should keep the toenail from growing into your skin again. Not all people need ablation.
As always, if your feet are hurting for any reason, make sure to call our Evanston office – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons at 847-475-9030, or Downtown Chicago office –Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute at 312-236-3507. Our care options for foot injuries and pain include some of the most cutting-edge procedures and technologies available!