Ingrown toenails are a painful, frustrating problem for young and old alike. In this condition, the border of a nail—along the edge or corner—curves downward and grows into the skin, rather than straight out.
In the most minor of cases, ingrown toenails might cause a bit of irritation and oversensitivity, especially when wearing shoes. But if left unaddressed, symptoms can increase to include swelling, redness, warmth in the toes, and even infection. If your ingrown toenails are painful, or you suffer from impaired circulatory health (for example as a result of diabetes), you should seek our help immediately.
Why Are My Toenails Ingrown?
Many factors can directly cause, or at least contribute to, a case of ingrown toenails.
- Your shoes are too tight. Tight toe boxes can pinch and press on toenails, making them ingrown. Kids who outgrow their shoes too quickly are prime candidates—along with adults who insist on wearing that “cute” pair every day even if it hurts their feet.
- You made a mistake trimming your nails. Letting your nails grow too long—or, conversely, cutting them too short—can increase the likelihood that they will become ingrown.
- You suffered an injury. Maybe you stubbed your toe on a desk, or dropped a can of beans on your foot. Or perhaps your nails kept knocking against the front of your shoes during your run. Such traumas can lead to ingrown nails.
- You were born that way. Unfortunately, some people inherit a natural tendency to develop ingrown toenails.
How Can I Fix My Ingrown Toenails?
There are multiple levels of care options, ranging from gentle and conservative options to minor surgery. When you visit our office, we’ll talk with you about your symptoms, your history with ingrown toenails, and your general health. From there, we can recommend one of several options.
- The conservative route. You might choose this option if you’re healthy, your symptoms are relatively benign, and/or you don’t have a history of ingrown nails. Conservative treatment may involve soaking your feet regularly, and having your nail gently lifted and/or trimmed by one of our specialists. This may work, or it may not—which would require a more aggressive treatment option.
- The surgical fix. If you’re more at risk for complications—or you’re just ready for relief and don’t want to mess around—we typically recommend a surgical fix. This is a very simple procedure that can be performed quickly in our office under local anesthesia. We simply cut out and remove the offending nail border, and of course prescribe any antibiotics that may be necessary to prevent or eliminate an infection. The pain relief is immediate, and you should experience little if any interruption to your day-to-day life.
- The permanent solution. If you have chronic ingrown nails that keep returning even after surgical treatment, you may wish to have part of your nail matrix ablated. Since the nail matrix is responsible for growing new nail tissue, this means the troublesome nail border will not grow back—and therefore have no opportunity to return. Your nail will be a little thinner, but we do our best to produce the most normal-looking result. In any case, it’s a small price to pay for healthy, pain-free nails.
If you have a bad case of ingrown toenails, don’t worry—but don’t wait, either. Stop by the office of Dr. Joel Foster, foot care specialist, to review your treatment options. To schedule with us in Lee’s Summit, MO, please call (816) 246-4222 today.