What Are the Causes and Warning Signs?
The pain of an ingrown toenail can be excruciating and unlike any other pain, where the intense, sharp pain caused can make simple everyday tasks unbearable to complete. When an ingrown toenail starts to become painful, it is time to seek treatment and advice from a Podiatrist. Ingrown toenails are always treated easier when attended to sooner.
The causes of an ingrown toenail can be varied, from ill-fitting footwear, incorrect nail cutting technique, trauma to the toe and nail and genetic predisposition to involuted (curved) nails.
While cutting your toenails incorrectly is one of the most direct causes, wearing incorrect sized shoes, or shoes not properly designed for the workouts or sport you’re playing, the pressure placed on the toenail and skin can cause irritation beneath and around the nail and skin, and if not treated correctly could lead to infection.
High-performance athletes, especially endurance sports such as long-distance running, are prone to experiencing ingrown toenails due to the constant pressure and loading placed on the front of the foot, toes, and skin around the toe area, making nail cutting techniques imperative whether you’re a novice at the gym or a professional athlete pushing your limits each day.
Seeking Advice from a Medical Professional
If you suspect yourself to have an ingrown toenail or have the onset of one, your toenails will need to be treated as quickly as possible, where the infection will be treated to give you as much comfort possible. Often a mild ingrown toenail can be treated immediately in the clinic, usually without need for any anaesthetic. More serious cases of ingrown toenails may require the use of a local anaesthetic to be able to remove the offending nail spike, or minor surgery to prevent recurrent ingrown toenails.
In most cases you’ll notice pain on the side of the toenail, especially with direct pressure, redness, and swelling , which is a sign of potential poisoning and can occur with both men and women.
Preventing infection should be your first point-of-call, and minor cases can be treated by a few home remedies:
Soak the affected foot in lukewarm warm with table salt to help reduce swelling and assist with easing the pain. This should be done up to 3 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time.
Soaking your foot/ feet in a mixture of warm water mixed with a ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, is a home remedy said to have anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties too.
Your local Pharmacy will assist you with an antiseptic ointment or cream which will assist with healing and help reduce the risk of infection, and can be applied up to 3 times daily too. Once the ointment has been applied, make sure to bandage the area.
Discuss with your Pharmacist the most appropriate over-the-counter pain relief medicines which will help provide temporary relief and help promote the reduction of swelling. Note that taking more than the recommended dose can cause uncomfortable side effects, and be aware of your alcohol consumption during this, as it can cause further side effects.
Wear Comfortable Socks and Shoes
This is considered to be one of the most common causes of ingrown toenails, and you’ll soon find out the need to provide your toes with sufficient space in the toe box of your shoes. It’s recommended not to wear any closed shoes to limit pain, and wear sandals or open-toed shoes until the issue is fixed.
Seek Advice from a Podiatrist
Minor instances of an ingrown toenail can be treated relatively quickly and easily in our clinic. For more severe cases of infections, prescription antibiotics may also be required to eliminate the infection.
Your Podiatrist or Doctor will advise and/or administer the relief required to improve your
condition, especially if there are conditions such as Diabetes, or other circulatory issues which may lead to more serious health complications.
Conclusion and Prevention
Ingrown toenails can be cared for in the comforts of your home if detected early enough, however, in those instances where the home remedies haven’t improved the condition of the nail and toe, or left untreated, the ingrown toenail may cause infection down to the bone.