Wow, does your big toe hurt! It looks red and swollen, too, particularly around the edges of the nail. This has never happened before, but you suspect you have an ingrown toenail. You could be right, but to be sure, see your podiatrist, Dr. James Kent, at East Texas Foot & Ankle Centers in Tyler, TX. He visually inspects suspect toenails and will recommend the treatment that will cure the problem and keep it from coming back.
How ingrown toenails happen
Besides wearing shoes that are too tight or short or having socks bunched up in the toe boxes of your shoes, ingrown toenails come from a simple mistake in your at-home pedicure. Too many people cut their toenails at an angle (like their fingernails). When this happens, the skin of the toe grows over the nail, and the nail eventually intrudes upon it. Friction and infection result.
Preventing ingrown toenails
Ingrown toenails are one of the most painful podiatric conditions because the tops of all your toes contain numerous nerves and blood vessels, making them super sensitive. So, to avoid ingrown toenails, or onychomycosis as your Tyler, TX podiatrist calls them, be sure to:
- Wash and dry your feet every day. Good foot hygiene keeps your feet free of fungus and also makes pedicures easier.
- Wear clean socks daily. Also, avoid tight shoes, and choose well-constructed footwear with plenty of room in the toes to reduce friction and undue pressure.
- Using clean, sharp nail clippers, trim your nails straight across. Do not create angled corners.
- If trimming your toenails is difficult for you, have Dr. Kent do it or go to a reputable nail salon for a professional pedicure.
Treating ingrown toenails
If you have one, don't panic. Dr. Kent will examine your foot and prescribe some common sense measures to eliminate the problem. Often, simply soaking your foot in warm water and epsom salts softens the nails, soothes the skin and allows the nail to grow straight again when trimmed correctly.
Also, you may apply over the counter antibiotic ointment as directed by your podiatrist. Sometimes, Dr. Kent prescribes an oral antibiotic if infection is severe.
To treat very bad ingrown nails, Dr. Kent may perform an in-office partial nail plate avulsion. During this simple procedure, he numbs the toe and removes a vertical section of the nail at the affected side. Also, he may apply a special chemical to degrade the nail matrix (nail bed) to keep that part of the nail from growing back and causing problems again.
How are your toes?
Be sure to keep an eye on them, and if you think you are developing an ingrown nail, please contact the office right away for advice or an appointment. At East Texas Foot & Ankle Centers, your podiatrist, Dr. James Kent and his team will keep you on your feet! Call (903) 939-3668 today for an appointment in Tyler, TX, today!