One of the most common toe nail complaints are ingrown toe nails. Having an ingrown toe nail can be painful and can lead to infection.
How do I know if I have an ingrown toe nail?
Ingrown toe nails are usually found in the big toe but can affect any toe. If a toe is affected, you will see that the top corner of the nail has made the skin around it red, swollen and painful. It can affect one side or the nail or both sides. An ingrown toe nail can also cause an infection so the area may feel warm to the touch.
What causes ingrown toe nails?
There are several reasons for someone to have ingrown toe nails. Wearing shoes that are too tight is one way. The pressure from the shoes will put the nail down into the nail bed. Injury is another reason for ingrown toe nails. Athletes will sometimes suffer repeated toe strikes as part of their sport. Runners, for instance, may hit their toe nail on the inside of the shoes while running. The other common cause of ingrown toe nails is incorrect toe nail cutting. If the nail is cut too short or the nail is rounded on the sides it can grow into the skin.
Also, heredity can factor into ingrown toe nails. Some people have curved nails or large nails that can lead to ingrown toe nail. This is one of those problems that can be passed from one generation to the next. So if Grandpa Joe had problems with ingrown toe nail and so did Dad and then you do, you can bet that you have toe nails that look like your relatives. (Not as much fun a inheriting a gold mine. Couldn’t there be something much more fun if you were going to inherit something?)
What do I do about an ingrown toe nail?
It is time to visit your friendly local podiatrist. You need to make sure the area is not infected. Ignoring an infection will not make it go away. The infection can get worse and can then infect the bones in your foot. If you can’t get into your friendly local podiatrist right away, you may want to soak your foot in warm water several times a day and put some antibiotic ointment on the area. You may want to cover the area and wear open toed shoes so that there is nothing pressing on the toe while it is inflamed.
When you get to the doctor, it will be checked. If necessary, the doctor may need to cut the nail and open up the area so that it can heal. While this sounds like it could hurt, the doctor will use a local anesthetic and you won’t feel a thing. I can tell you this from experience. It felt so much better after I had seen the doctor that I didn’t mind the oh so attractive bandage on my toe.
If you are diabetic, I urge you to see the podiatrist as the first sign of a problem. It may be that you notice the problem more from your foot inspections (You are doing those, right?) then actually feeling the pain. This is a good example of how checking your feet can be important for your health.