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An ingrown toenail will occur if the nail grows into the skin that surrounds the nail bed. While any nail can be ingrown, the condition tends to affect the big toe more often. Ingrown toenails can be painful and swollen and, if left untreated they can also cause an infection. Today our podiatrist in Super Health Chatswood Medical Centre are going to explain what to do for an ingrown toenail. 


What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Cutting your toenails straight across is the best way to avoid ingrown toenails. Even though most ingrown toenails are not serious, they can be very painful. 

You can get an ingrown toenail in these circumstances

  • If your shoes or socks are too tight and push the skin and nail together
  • If you cut your nails in a curved shape or if you do not cut them straight across
  • If you stub your toe an ingrown toenail can result
  • If your toenails have curved edges

Ingrown toenails are more common in older adults because your nails get thicker as you age. People who have circulation problems or diabetes are more susceptible to ingrown nails


What Are The Symptoms Of An Ingrown Toenail?

What Are The Symptoms Of An Ingrown Toenail?If you have an ingrown toenail you are likely to 

  • Feel tenderness or pain at the site
  • See redness or swelling around the affected toe
  • Notice harder skin surrounding the toenail


What To Do For An Ingrown Toenail?

If you suffer from diabetes, a circulation problem or have nerve damage, you should consult your doctor in the event that you have ingrown toenails. If you are otherwise healthy, you may be able to self-treat.


These are the steps you should follow

  • Soak your foot in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You will need to repeat this process three to four ties per day, to be able to separate the skin from the nail. You can add one of these items to the water if you want to avoid the area from becoming infected: Epsom salts, apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide.
  • Use a clean cotton bud to gently push the nail and the skin apart from one another.
  • You may need to repeat the process for a few days, to give the nail a chance to grow longer and out of the skin enclosing it
  • If necessary, you can insert a thin piece of cotton between the edge of the nail and the surrounding skin so that the nail continues to grow over and not into the skin. You can also use a piece of dental floss for this; just make sure that whatever you use, you change it for a clean piece every time you soak the affected foot.

In the case of an infection, your healthcare practitioner is best placed to handle it, because you may need a course of antibiotics to help clear the infection. It may also be necessary to drain the infected matter. If the infection is severe it may be necessary to remove part of the nail. 


How Can You Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

Once you have had an ingrown nail you will want to know how to prevent the discomfort and inconvenience in the future.


Try these tips

  • Always cut your nails straight across
  • Do not pick at your nails because you’re not likely to pick them off straight
  • Wear shoes and socks that fit well and do not cramp your toes. If you have a wide foot, make sure you are wearing shoes that are the right width
  • Soaking your feet before trimming nails can make them softer and easier to cut straight
  • Consider wearing toe protectors between your toes and shoes. Toe protectors create a comfortable barrier and may help if you find shoes uncomfortable for your toes.



What To Do For An Ingrown Toenail: Surgical Options

If your ingrown toenail is severe, infected or doesn’t respond to other remedies, it may be necessary to remove a part of or the whole nail. Surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic and is quite quick to complete.


Types Of Surgical Removals

  • Nail avulsion: the removal of the whole toenail
  • Wedge excision: the removal of the edge that has grown into the surrounding skin
  • Sometimes the tissue that the nail grows from is also removed.


What To Expect Afterwards?

Your doctor will give you specific recovery instructions but in general you can expect to avoid exercise for at least two weeks after the surgery. Laying with your leg raised in the air may help to reduce swelling in the area.


If home remedies are not working for ingrown toenails, if you have an infection or if you suffer from diabetes you should seek professional help as soon as possible to find out more about what to do for an ingrown toenail or to make an appointment please contact us: (02) 9884 9300.




Ingrown Toenails 

Surgery for Ingrowing Toenail (Adult)

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