Ingrown toenails, or as they are known by their medical name: onychocryptosis, can range from being a mild nuisance to being quite painful and even dangerous if they become infected. Ingrown toenails occur most frequently on the big toe when the nail grows downward into the skin around the nail. As the nail grows deeper, the skin becomes red and inflamed and it starts to hurt. Once the nail breaks the skin, bacteria can enter and an infection can develop.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
Although a tendency toward ingrown toenails can be genetic, the most common cause is improper nail trimming. Cutting nails too short or rounding the corners increases the chances of the skin folding over the nail and the nail growing into the skin. Sometimes wearing shoes and socks that are too tight in the toe area can lead to ingrown toenails. Other causes include trauma to the toenail or a fungal infection.
At Lansdowne Podiatry, we recommend soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts, which can help soften the nail area and allow the ingrown nail to work its way out. There are a number of home remedies, however, which do not work and can actually worsen the condition. Avoid these old folk remedies:
Myth: Cut a notch in the nail.
Fact: Some people think this will prevent the nail from curving downward but it does not. You also risk injury and infection by attempting to cut the nail.
Myth: Place cotton under the nail to relieve the pain.
Fact: Cotton provides the perfect place for harmful bacteria to grow and penetrate the skin to start an infection.
Myth: Keep trimming the nail borders.
Fact: Constantly trimming the nail does not change the way it grows and can actually increase the chance of a toenail becoming ingrown.
If you have an ingrown toenail that seems to be getting worse instead of better, make an appointment at our Leesburg office to meet with our podiatrist, Dr. Monique Renee Rolle. For stubborn ingrown toenails, there are other treatment options. Your foot doctor will conduct a thorough examination of the nail and then be able to recommend the correct treatment for you. If you are in pain or you notice drainage from the nail, don’t delay. Contact our office as soon as possible.