In this article, you will learn about the causes of ingrown toenails, what you can do at home, what medical treatments are available, and which doctor you should go to for ingrown nails.
The medical term for this painful condition is onychocryptosis . An ingrown toenail usually develops when a corner of the toenail curves downward and sinks into the skin . Symptoms may present as pain, swelling, redness, and warmth. If the toenail pierces the skin, bacteria can enter your skin and cause an infection. Eventually, the skin can begin to renew itself and grow over the ingrown part of the nail.
You can do several things at home to treat ingrown toenails. However, if you suspect an infection or have diabetes , circulation problems, or numbness in your toes, you should skip home remedies and see a doctor right away.
What are the causes of ingrown toenails?
There are many conditions that cause ingrown nails. One of them is trauma; For example, an ingrown nail can develop if you bump your finger or drop something on it, or if someone steps on it. Toenail loss, repetitive pressure from certain spores, fungal infection or psoriasis can also be responsible for ingrown nails. Thick or curved toenails (nails tend to curl more with age) are particularly sensitive, and some people tend to inherit nail problems. Wrong nail cutting is also among the causes of ingrown nails.
Wearing shoes that are too narrow or too short also increases the risk of ingrown nails. Another problem that can trigger ingrown nails is high heels. Increased heel height transfers most of your body weight to the front of the foot, and ingrown toenails may occur after a while.
How does nail ingrown go?
If your symptoms are mild and you don’t have a complicated medical condition such as diabetes , you can start treatment at home with preventative measures.
Soaking your feet in warm water for 15 minutes two or three times a day may work. If you wish, you can add Epsom salt to the water you use. Many people find epsom salt effective, but there is no scientific evidence that it will provide pain relief or promote healing. You can also massage the skin at the edge of your nail (nail fold) while your feet are in the water.
It is also good to wear sandals or other low-heeled open-toed shoes as much as possible until you recover. Even if you wear close-toed shoes, you should make sure that the front of the shoe allows the toes to move freely.
How do doctors treat ingrown nails?
If the toenail becomes infected or doesn’t get better even after three to five days of preventative care, it’s time to see a doctor. You may need to take oral antibiotics for an infection, or your doctor may need to remove the ingrown part of the nail. If you have recurrent ingrown toenails, more extensive and professional nail removal may be required.
In a common procedure called partial nail avulsion, a narrow vertical strip of nail on the affected side is cut and removed from the nail edge to the base of the nail. Your doctor may also apply a chemical called phenol to the nail matrix (the area under the cuticle that produces nail-forming cells) to prevent nail regrowth.
How to prevent ingrown nails?
- Make sure to wear low-heeled shoes that provide enough room for the toes, choose socks that allow your toes to move freely, or socks that absorb moisture.
- Keep your feet clean and dry, do not wear socks when your feet are damp.
- When trimming your toenails, use toenail clippers (not nail clippers). If your toenails are particularly thick, try a spring-loaded tool called a toenail clipper.
- Trim your toenails according to the curve of your toe, and don’t cut your toenails too short.
Which doctor should I go to for ingrown toenails?
The doctor you will go to for ingrown nails should be a family doctor as a priority. Because most cases of ingrown nails are not serious and your family doctor will offer the necessary solution. If an ingrown toenail is infected or worries you, then the doctor you should go to is a dermatologist.