Perfecting My Foot

Ingrown Toenails: A Treatment Guide

Is the corner of your toenail digging into your skin? You have what is known as an ingrown toenail. In most cases, you can treat and manage ingrown nails at home, though you may have to see a podiatrist for a severe case or if the skin surrounding your nail becomes infected. Here's a closer look at how you should treat and manage this condition.

Trimming the nail

If your nail is just beginning to grow into your skin, you should be able to lift it and trim the curling portion away.  Apply some antiseptic, such as iodine, to the area after trimming. After that, just keep trimming your nail straight across. It should correct its own growth pattern in time as long as you switch your shoes to ones that don't press on your nail.

If your ingrown nail has grown so far into your skin that you can't easily lift it away from your skin without pain, then do not trim it yourself. See a podiatrist. Trimming a badly ingrown nail on your own increases your risk of infection.

Choosing the right shoes

Make sure that any pair of shoes you buy does not put any pressure on the top of your nail. Likely, wearing shoes that press on your nail has contributed greatly to the development of the ingrown nail, and correcting this issue will keep things from getting worse. Stay away from heels, as these almost always place pressure on your nails. Also, consider purchasing shoes in a wider width than you usually do, as these won't put so much pressure on the outside of your nails.

Soaking your foot

To prevent your ingrown nail from becoming infected – and to keep soreness at bay – you'll want to soak it in Epsom salts about twice per week. Toss a handful of Epsom salts into a tub of warm water, and immerse your foot for about 20 minutes. The salts help kill bacteria that could cause infection, and they also draw out any inflammation in the tissues surrounding your toenail, which can alleviate discomfort.

If you ever notice any excessive redness, swelling, or pus exuding from the area surrounding your toenail, contact your podiatrist, like those at Klein Stanley Jay DPM. These are signs that your ingrown nail has become infected. Your podiatrist can trim back the nail to prevent the problem from becoming any worse, and can also prescribe oral antibiotics or an antibiotic cream to treat the infection.