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  • Writer's pictureMy Family Podiatry

How Podiatrists Can Aid in Chronic Ingrown Toenail Treatment

What's It Like To Have Ingrown Toenails?

Having an ingrown toenail can be an incredibly painful and frustrating experience. An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, most commonly on the big toe.

Common Symptoms of An Ingrown Toenail

The most noticeable symptom is pain, which can become severe, especially when pressure is applied to the toe, such as while walking or wearing shoes.

The area around the ingrown toenail usually becomes red, swollen, and warm due to inflammation.

In some cases, if the nail punctures the skin, it can lead to an infection. This is often characterised by increased pain, pus, and even a bad odour.

It's Best to Treat an Ingrown Toenail as Soon as Possible

These symptoms can significantly impact daily activities, making it difficult to walk, exercise, or even stand for extended periods. Visibly, the toe might appear swollen or the skin around the nail may seem overgrown.

Ingrown toenails can be a recurring problem that requires ongoing care and attention. This may involve soaking the nail in warm salty water if it becomes uncomfortable, wearing comfortable and wide fitting footwear, and carefully trimming the toenail.

In more severe cases, a podiatrist intervention may be necessary to remove the ingrown part of the nail and potentially a GP to prescribe antibiotics for the infection. Maintaining proper foot hygiene and nail care can help prevent ingrown toenails from developing.

Can Ingrown Toenail Become a Chronic Issue?

Ingrown toenails can become a persistent and painful issue for several reasons.

  • Cutting toenails too short or rounding the corners can cause them to grow into the skin, so always try to cut nails straight across.

  • Tight, narrow, or ill-fitting shoes, like high heels and pointed-toe shoes, put pressure on the toes and can lead to nails growing into the skin.

  • Genetics can make some people more prone to curved toenails.

  • Repeated injuries or constant pressure from activities like running or sports like soccer and football can lead to chronic ingrown toenails.

  • Poor foot hygiene, such as not keeping feet clean and dry, can increase the risk of infections.

  • Fungal infections that thicken and change the nails increases the risk of developing ingrown nails. Naturally thick or curved nails are more likely to grow into the skin.

  • Health conditions such as diabetes can increase the risk of serious infection and illness as a result of ingrown toenails.

Recurrent infections can cause persistent inflammation and changes to the nail and skin, making ingrown toenails a recurring issue.

Treatment Options Provided by Podiatrists

Podiatrists are medical specialists who can provide a range of treatments for chronic ingrown toenails, helping to alleviate pain, prevent infections, and reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

Non-Surgical Ingrown Toenails Treatments

Non-surgical treatments for ingrown toenails focus on immediate pain relief and prevention of further ingrown nails. Proper nail trimming and education are key. Your podiatrist will remove the ingrown piece of nail, smoothing the edge to try and prevent further ingrown nails. They will also advise you on the best way to cut your nails for your nail shape, reducing the risk of future issues.

Your podiatrist may also recommend devices such as toe spacers to reduce pressure on the side of the toe while the nail is growing out and discuss appropriate footwear to ensure your feet are not squashed.

Surgical Ingrown Toenails Treatments

Surgical treatments for ingrown toenails offer more permanent solutions for severe or recurring cases. At My Family Podiatry, we perform a procedure called a partial nail avulsion (link to nail surgery blog?) where the ingrown edge of the nail and nail root is removed under local anaesthesia. A chemical is then applied to stop that edge of the nail growing back, offering a more permanent solution.

What You Should Do to Prevent Chronic Ingrown Toenails?

Trim Toenails Properly

Cut your toenails straight across, avoiding cutting down the edges. Use clean, sharp nail clippers and don't cut nails too short. Keep the nail edge level with the tips of your toes. You can use a file to smooth off the edges to prevent a point on the corners.

Choose the Right Footwear

Wear shoes that offer enough room for your toes. Avoid tight, narrow, or pointed shoes. Ensure your footwear provides proper support and cushioning. Limit the use of high heels and restrictive footwear that put pressure on your toes.

Maintain Good Foot Hygiene

Keep your feet clean and dry. Wash them daily with soap and water, and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes. Change socks regularly to keep your feet dry and reduce the risk of fungal infections. Apply a good foot moisturiser to keep the skin around the nails soft.

Protect Your Feet

Wear protective footwear if you engage in activities that risk toe injury, such as construction work or sports. Orthotics can help if you have toe deformities, as can toe spacers, toe sleeves and other protectors to reduce pressure on the toes.

Regularly Visit a Podiatrist

Routine check-ups with a podiatrist can help monitor and maintain foot health. They can provide professional nail care and address early signs of ingrown toenails.

When to See a Podiatrist to Treat Chronic Ingrown Toenails?

You should see a podiatrist to treat chronic ingrown toenails if you experience persistent pain, swelling, or redness that doesn't improve with home care, or if you notice signs of infection like pus, increased warmth, or a bad odour. We always recommend contacting your podiatrist before attempting any “home surgery”.

We also recommend you consult a podiatrist as soon as you notice an ingrown toenail if you have a medical condition that affects your feet, such as diabetes.

Your podiatrist at My Family Podiatry can provide effective treatments to remove the ingrown portion and ensure long-term foot health.

Don't ignore the pain—get the professional care you need!

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