What to do about an ingrown toenail

An ingrown toenail, though a minor condition, should not be considered lightly. If left untreated, this can lead to serious complications.

An ingrown toenail, though a minor condition, should not be considered lightly. If left untreated, this can lead to serious complications.

An ingrown toenail is quite common across different gender and age groups.  It can range anywhere from being mildly annoying to downright painful. What exactly can be done about an ingrown toenail?

What an ingrown toenail is

Before going over the ways to effectively treat an ingrown toenail, one should understand what it is, what causes it, and how to properly diagnose it.  Understanding the root cause will not only give way for appropriate treatment to take place. It is also the most essential step in prevention.

So what exactly is an ingrown toenail?  This is the result of nail corners growing into the skin. Toenails are the most susceptible to suffer from this condition.  This is because toenails are generally flatter and carry the brunt of the stress caused by nail growth. People who have an ingrown toenail usually complain about pain, swelling, and redness.

Its causes

Ingrown toenails can be caused by a lot of things.  This could be because of genetic disposition or the nature of toenails.  It could also be caused by human action such as constantly wearing footwear that is too tight, too narrow, or flat.  Activities that put the feet at risk for injury could also cause ingrown toenails. Cutting nails the wrong way could also trigger an ingrown toenail.  As a rule, toenails should be cut straight across and should not be too short.

Signs and Symptoms

The good thing about this particular ailment is that its signs and symptoms are straightforward and very noticeable.  Because of this, one can gain access to correct and immediate intervention. Quick and accurate action will definitely help particularly in pain and swelling management.  Here are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for:
– General redness among toenails
– Feeling pain or tenderness when sides of the nail are pinched
– Swelling in affected area
– Infection in affected area

A person with some of these signs and symptoms should either see a doctor or employ suggested home remedies.  Whichever way you go about it, make sure you have accurate diagnosis in order to receive appropriate care and treatment.

Its prevalence

As mentioned earlier, suffering from an ingrown toenail is relatively common.  Simple cases can even be treated at home. However, there are people who are more likely to suffer from ingrown toenails.  They include:

– People living with diabetes
– Those with sweaty feet
– Older people
– Those who engage in activities that put the feet at risk for injury such as playing sports or dancing
– Those with toenails that are naturally curved

What to do

As mentioned earlier, simple cases can be attended to at home.  Here are some common treatments to counter an ingrown toenail:

Soaking feet.  This has more to do with pain management than anything else.  Soaking feet has its benefits. You can mix warm water with different ingredients that can help soothe the pain and ease the swelling.  Apple cider vinegar, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties. Certain soap and salts can also lessen the pain as well as the swelling.  A daily fifteen to twenty-minute soak should do the trick.

Administering antibiotics.  Ingrown toenails are at risk for infection.  This is why antibiotic creams and ointment might be necessary.  One might need a doctor’s prescription for this and mind possible allergic reactions.  Once those are in the clear, a person just has to apply the cream on the general affected area.  Proper dressing of the wound should be observed as well.

Taking pain relievers.  Sometimes, the pain could be overwhelming. What a person can do is to take a pain reliever medication orally.  Just make sure to take the safe route. Contact the family physician if this pain reliever suits the needs it is taken for.  Keep track of the milligrams. Be aware of possible side effects. These should all be taken in consideration especially for older people and teenagers.

Preventing.  The best thing to do is to stop it or lessen the risk before it ever happens.  There are many ways a person can do this. Simple tasks such as choosing the right pair of shoes or socks can go a long way.  Steer clear from footwear that are too tight. Packing your toes without any room to breathe can cause ingrown toenails. One can also opt to wear a ring-like toe protector or covering.  This could serve as extra cushion for your toes. Toe braces should also come handy. They are designed to lift nail corners so these do not grow into the skin. Proper trimming should also be done.  Trim toenails should be cut straight across and should not be too short. Finally, better protection for toes should be observed by athletes and dancers. There are many footgear available in the market that offer optimum protection for the feet.

Using nail softeners.  Some pharmacies sell gel that could soften nails.  This makes cutting toenails a lot easier and less painful.  This could be of great use particularly for older people who have tougher nails.

Removing the nail.  If all else fails, the affected nail might have to be removed.  This cannot be done at home. A capable doctor should prescribe it first before a person can undergo said minor surgery.  Proper after care should be observed as well because removing a nail significantly raises the chance of an infection. Make sure to consult the doctor when considering this.

When to see the doctor

An ingrown toenail is a fairly common condition and does not cause much damage.  However, this still should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, infection could set in and go straight for the bone.  Before contracting serious complications, one should go to the doctor when the pain and swelling persist after a week of home remedies. Serious cases should be brought to the attention of a doctor for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

An ingrown toenail, though minor and common, should be treated immediately.  Appropriate preventive measures can keep such condition at bay. However, it is not entirely bad news for those who suffer from this ailment.  Home remedies are available to counter the pain or swelling. Should there be no improvement, it is advised to seek medical help as soon as possible.

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