Anyone who’s had an ingrown toenail will know how painful they can be. They can even make walking difficult. They occur when the edges of the nail curves and grows into surrounding skin, causing swelling and inflammation. If left untreated, they can also lead to an infection.
Ingrown toenails can happen again and again and mostly on the big toe. We’d recommend you find out why your toenail may be growing inwards. A brief check up at our clinic will determine the cause and help you understand how to prevent them.
As a point of interest, the scientific name for ingrown toenails is onychocryptosis, not a word you often come across! Onycho- nail, crypto-hidden which is hidden nail.
What causes ingrown toenails?
The causes of ingrown toenails are most often due to:
- Cutting your toenails too short – they should be over the skin, not nestled into the skin
- Rounded nail edges – these have more opportunity to grow into the skin
- Tight fitting shoes – causing the toes to rub against the shoe
- Stubbing your toe and injuring the nailbed
- Repeated activity that creates constant friction on the toe such as running or ballet
- Genetics – this can also determine whether you get ingrown toenails due to the shape of the nail and nailbed
Self-help – what you can do at home
We’d always recommend that you pop into the clinic to treat an ingrown toenail as they are prone to infection which can get worse if not handled properly. But if you can’t make it into the clinic, you might like to try the following:
- Trim the nails straight across so that the edges protrude from the skin
- Don’t trim the nails too short, leave them a little a little longer so they don’t lay directly into the nailbed
- Wear proper fitting shoes and avoid any friction or rubbing on the toes
For pain relief:
- Soak your toenail in Epsom salts or soapy water for 15 minutes, this reduces swelling and inflammation
- Apply an antiseptic or antibacterial cream to the toe
- Tuck bits of cotton or dental floss underneath the ingrown toenail to lift the corner of your nail and help it grow outward
- Wear loose fitting shoes to give the toe plenty of room
- Wear a toe protector which provides a cushion for the big toe against anything that might rub it make the ingrown toenail worse. You can buy these from the chemist.
How we help at our podiatry clinic (Adelaide, Mount Barker and Stirling)
We’ll determine how severely your toenail has grown into the skin and whether there is any infection. We’ll then treat the ingrown toenail by lifting the nail and placing cotton underneath to give it room to breathe and grow outward. We may also have to partially or fully remove the toenail if there is extensive infection, to help the nailbed heal before a new nail grows again.
Whatever path of treatment we take, our gentle podiatrists will ensure you experience little no discomfort.
Don’t put up with ingrown toenails, let our podiatrists help you
You don’t need to put up with an ingrown toenail or allow it to continue re-occurring. If untreated, they can become severely infected and permanently damage the surrounding tissues. This can lead to more problems with that toenail in the future.
Sanders Podiatry provide holistic personalised podiatry care from our locations in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.