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When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require a Podiatrist?

When the corners or sides of your toenails dig into the soft tissue that forms a pad around them, you experience inflammation — or an ingrown toenail.

Toenails typically grow straight out of the nail bed. Improper trimming, a hereditarily abnormal toenail growth, tight shoes, or repetitive trauma to the feet (such as running downhill) can cause them to grow in a way that digs into your flesh.

Ingrown toenails usually affect the big toe, but can technically occur on any toe. If your ingrown toenail is causing you concern, contact Jeremy Moran, DPN, in Tomball, Texas. While home remedies can sometimes halt an ingrown toenail from becoming serious, an infection or chronic pain means you need medical help.

Symptoms that suggest an ingrown toenail

An ingrown toenail usually causes pain around where the nail grows out. It may appear red and slightly swollen. The skin tissue surrounding the nail may be prominent. If the toenail is becoming infected, it can have a distinct odor and drain pus.

At-home solutions

If you think you might have an infection or a toenail that’s ingrown enough to develop one, soak your foot in warm, soapy water for about 20 minutes. Do this more than once a day for several days. After each soak, dry your foot thoroughly and apply an antiseptic and add a bandage. Don’t try to trim the toenail more or use over-the-counter medications as a salve.

See Dr. Moran

If you’re healthy, but your ingrown toenail doesn’t resolve and starts to ooze or look excessively red or swollen, definitely seek treatment from Dr. Moran. If you’re diabetic, have peripheral vascular disease, or suffer other circulatory disorders, you should see Dr. Moran at the first indications of an ingrown toenail. Any progression toward infection could cause serious complications.

Treatment for ingrown toenails

Dr. Moran removes the ingrown segment of the nail. If he suspects an infection, you may need a topical or prescription medication to help you heal. For men and women with chronic ingrown toenails, Dr. Moran may recommend a splint that discourages improper nail growth. In some cases, he may use chemical or laser treatment to remove the corner of the nail that consistently grows into the surrounding flesh. This is an in-office procedure using a local anesthetic.

Keep yourself free of ingrown nails

You can prevent the development of ingrown toenails by always trimming them straight across and keep them no longer than the tip of the toe. Round the corners of your nails slightly. Stay away from uncomfortable, tight shoes, especially ones that compress the toes together like pointy heels. Use nail clippers to trim your toenails, too. Never tear them off or go at your feet with scissors.

Trust Dr. Moran with all your foot concerns, including ingrown toenails. While this condition may seem like an annoyance, it can seriously impair your ability to exercise, walk, and even stand. In some populations, ingrown toenails can be dire. Attempt home care at the first signs, but if the ingrown nail doesn’t resolve, call our office or book an appointment to come in.

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