Ingrown Toenails 101
They’re annoying. They’re painful. They’re common. Yes, ingrown toenails are a nuisance affecting millions of people every year. Yet, many people know very little about why they happen, or even when they’re happening.
The ingrown toenail knows no age. It can affect kids as well as adults. In the most basic of terms, it occurs when a nail grows curved and into the skin. When it breaks the skin, you might have an infection on your hands – or foot, more properly.
So, what causes it? Well, trimming your toenails too short is one of the most common culprits. Narrow toe boxes, as attractive as they may be, can also be at fault. You might even have stubbed your toe, causing the nail to grow abnormally. Ouch! Perhaps you can point a finger at a nasty case of fungus or splitting of the nail. Or, maybe it’s just hereditary. Whatever the cause, you probably have an ingrown toenail if the area becomes red, swollen, infected and most annoyingly, hurts when any pressure is applied to it. Like just walking in shoes!
Not to worry, though. Treatment is on the way. The removal of just the incurvated portion of the nail is a fairly quick procedure. A course of antibiotics would be prescribed if infected, as well as anti-inflammatories to help relieve the discomfort as the toe heals.
Of course, prevention here is key and surprisingly simple. First, be sure to cut your nails straight across, and don’t trim too often. Correctly fitting shoes are also smart, for preventing ingrown toenails and a host of other problems. Also, avoid putting cotton under your nails. Yes, some people do that and it’s not advised under any circumstances.
Even with prevention and treatment, some folks experience an ongoing recurrence of ingrown toenails. For those folks, I recommend permanent solutions, such as Tenjet with PRP/Amnion products. This would permanently stop the nail from growing in the problem area, but not the entire area.
There, you’ve passed Ingrown Toenails 101. You get extra credit if you don’t try to treat it yourself. For instance, don’t use the tip of a nail file to try to release the ingrown nail from under the skin. You might get infected, and that’s never a good thing. Seek professional help and remember, it happens to more people than you could ever imagine. You’re in good company, I assure you.
Tania Kapila, DPM
DeLoor Podiatry Associates