Summer is just around the corner—are you ready for sandal season? If you’re suffering from an ingrown toenail ache, your dream of pool parties, sandcastles, and sandals might be postponed. Ingrown toenails aren’t just unsightly, they are also painful and uncomfortable. If you have this condition, we encourage you to contact a podiatrist for professional help.
What are ingrown toenails?
Ingrown toenails, or onychocryptosis, occur when the edge of your toenail starts burying into your skin. This causes the toe to become painful and inflamed. If left untreated, the ingrown toenail could lead to infection.
Ingrown toenails can impact anyone and can occur on any toe. However, they appear most frequently on the big toe, and they particularly affect men.
Learn more about ingrown toenails and treatment options.
There are a variety of causes for ingrown toenails, but the most common causes include:
- Tightly fitting shoes or high heels. Shoes that are too small for your feet can force your toenail into the skin, causing a severe toenail ache and irritation. Wearing looser, less constricting shoes can help relieve pain.
- Cutting your toenails improperly can lead to ingrown toenails. Specifically, if you cut the nail at an angle or leave it too short, you will encourage the nail to grow into the skin. When cutting your or your child’s toenail, make sure you are cutting the nail straight across.
Even seemingly innocent behaviors such as stubbing your toe or kicking a soccer ball can cause ingrown toenails. Staying “in-the-know” of ingrown toenail symptoms will help you immediately address the issue, leaving you ready for sandal season!
Symptoms of ingrown nails
If you notice tenderness or swelling around your toe, you may have an ingrown toenail. Other common symptoms of ingrown toenails include:
- Inflammation and swelling around the toenail
- The curvature of the nail
- General aches and pains around the nail
Treating ingrown toenail aches at home
An ingrown toenail may seem like a minor injury that will go away on its own. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Ingrown toenails must be treated before the condition gets worse (infection, foot ulcers, loss of blood flow, and more). If you only have mild pain, and no signs of an infection, you can try to soak the affected foot in apple cider vinegar or soapy, warm water. Over-the-counter medications, such as Ibuprofen, can also reduce swelling.
If you have severe pain or notice your symptoms increasing or getting worse, contact Arizona Foot Doctors immediately. During your appointment, we’ll conduct a gentle evaluation of your toenail and see if there are any underlying causes.
Non-invasive podiatric treatment
Skilled and experienced podiatrists will attempt to treat your ingrown toenail ache conservatively. Massaging and trimming the nail, and recommending over-the-counter pain medication are common non-invasive treatment methods. If you are suffering from an infection due to an ingrown toenail, a podiatrist may prescribe antibiotics. Laser therapy is also an effective, non-invasive treatment method that lowers inflammation while making the surrounding tissue stronger.
Treatment for severe cases
If conservative treatments fail, you may need to explore ingrown toenail removal. Doctors may opt for partial or full removal depending on the severity of the ingrown nail. During a partial removal, the podiatrist will remove a portion of the toenail. If the ingrown toenail ache keeps coming back, or if the condition is serious enough, a doctor will remove all of the nail using lasers and medication.
The podiatrists at Arizona Foot Doctors are focused on prevention and healthy living. When you visit our family podiatry office, we’ll work closely with you and your loved ones to develop a customized treatment and prevention strategy. The prevention methods we suggest may involve a change in your footwear, new personal hygiene routines, and foot moisturizers.
Contact Arizona Foot Doctors
You don’t need to miss out on sandal season or your upcoming vacation. If you have an ingrown toenail ache, contact Arizona Foot Doctors at (480) 661-7572. Our team of skilled medical professionals will conduct a gentle evaluation of your feet to determine the best treatment and prevention plan for your ingrown nail.