An ingrown toenail can be painful. It can make life difficult and it could even lead to a serious infection; this type of problem is becoming more common and it is believed to be due to wearing shoes that are too tight. Luckily if you deal with the problem quickly it can often be handled without the need to visit the professionals. If you let things go on too long though you may need to see a podiatrist and receive appropriate treatment. Although it is possible for any toenail to become ingrown it is most often something that occurs with the big toe.
What Causes an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail occurs when a sharp edge of the toenail digs into the skin. This not only leads to a lot of pain but also to inflammation; the area will usually become red and swollen and may feel hot to the touch. The toe may react to this damage by growing extra tissue which can further exacerbate the problem. If the area becomes infected then this can lead to pus coming from the side of the toenail. In some cases it will cause an abscess which may require surgical intervention. In rare cases things get so bad that the bone becomes infected and this is a very serious situation.
As we have already mentioned wearing shoes that fit too tightly can cause an ingrown toenail, but this is not the only reason we get them. Another common cause is that we don’t cut our toenails correctly. We cut them at a curve around the toe when we should be cutting them straight across. It is also a bad idea to cut your toenails too short. It is also possible to get an ingrown toenail if we have injured our toe. A good example of this is when we stub our toe on something.
How to Deal with an Ingrown Toenail
So long as the ingrown toenail has not been ignored for too long it should be possible to treat it at home, but if there are any signs of infection though, this might not be possible. If you are unsure the best advice is to just go and see a podiatrist.
If you are confident that your ingrown toenail is not too bad then you could try the following. Soak your foot in warm salted water two times a day; if you have time you can make this more often. By doing this you will reduce the swelling and soften the toenail. After you have soaked the area and for a few minutes you can lightly pat of the area to dry. Then you should apply some antiseptic cream as this will hopefully prevent any type of infection from developing. You should then get some cotton wool and place it under the toenail where it is growing into the skin. If you do this every day then eventually the nail should grow away from the skin.