An ingrown toenail is painful. It may even hurt so bad, you have difficulty walking and going about your usual activities. This condition is sometimes caused by a toe injury, but many times it's caused by the way you trim your nails. Here's how you can prevent and treat your ingrown nail.
Trim Nails Straight Across
If you shape your toenails like you do your fingernails, so they curve down on the sides, you're setting yourself up to get an ingrown nail. As it grows out, the nail has a good chance of digging into the flesh of your toe causing pain and putting you at risk of infection.
So, the first step to preventing an ingrown toenail is to always cut your nails straight across the top. Don't cut them too short either. Keep them above the flesh, so they won't dig into your skin as they grow out. Resist the urge to peel your toenails, since you can't control how deep the rip will go. Instead, use toenail clippers, so you get a straight, clean cut every time.
Wear Shoes With A Wide Toe
One of the reasons toenails grow into the skin is because of the pressure applied to them when you wear socks and shoes. You can relieve this pressure by wearing roomy socks and shoes with wide toes. This helps prevent an ingrown nail, and it also provides relief from pain when you already have one. You may even want to wear sandals or house shoes around the house if you're suffering with a painful nail. However, it's a good idea to wear shoes with a sturdy toe when you go out, because your pain will be a lot more severe if you happen to stub your toe, or if someone accidentally steps on your foot.
Soak Your Feet
When you first notice discomfort around your nail, you should take steps to correct the situation before the pain gets worse as the nail grows out. One thing you can do is soak your feet. This reduces swelling and inflammation, so you might be able to pull the nail away from the skin. After you do this, place a tiny bit of cotton or a bandage under the tip of the nail. This separates it from the skin, so the nail won't dig in as it grows. You'll have to repeat this procedure every day until your nail grows beyond the tip of your toe.
Seek Medical Care
Once your nail is firmly ingrown, and you're suffering with pain when you walk, you should consider going to a doctor or podiatrist at a clinic like Lincoln Park Podiatry. He or she may lift your nail and place a splint under it to keep it from touching your skin. Another option is to remove part of the nail or some of the skin tissue. The doctor will probably give you a local anesthetic, so you won't feel any pain during the procedure. In addition, you may get antibiotics if you have a lot of swelling or pus.
If you have diabetes, nerve damage, or circulation problems in your feet, you want to seek medical care at the first sign of an ingrown toenail. That's because you may not realize how bad the infection is when you have decreased sensation in your feet. Also, with poor blood supply, you'll be at a greater risk of infection that may be slow to heal. However, if you're otherwise healthy, you might be able to deal with an ingrown nail yourself as long as you don't wait too long to start treating it. When you develop severe pain, swelling, redness, or pus, it's time to get professional help.