If you've ever dealt with this painful condition, you understand the importance of knowing how to cure ingrown toenails. Even if it's a problem that has not afflicted you, it can be helpful to understand the finer points of treating an ingrown. After all, when this problem arises, it can be quite sudden and painful.
About Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails are very common. The problem occurs when the side of one toenail begins to grow into the flesh of that particular toe. There are many causes of ingrown toenails, including:
- Tight shoes that essentially "crowd" the toes
- Toenails that are cut too short or not straight across
- Thickened toenails
- Toenails that are unusually curved
- Toenails that are injured
Individuals with toenails that curve naturally downward may be more susceptible to ingrown toenails, as well as older individuals (who have naturally thickened nails). When ingrown nails strike, redness, swelling, pain and occasionally infection can result. This condition is usually found on the big toe. Though the problem can be remedied at home, occasionally the doctor may need to step in and take control. This is especially necessary when the potential for complications exists or an infection has occurred.
Some of the symptoms of ingrown toenails include:
- Redness around the toenail
- Swelling of that specific toe
- Pain and tenderness along both sides or one side of the toenail
- Infection of the skin around the toe
Needless to say, the sensation can be unpleasant, and individuals with conditions that cause poor circulation, such as diabetes, are at greater risk for suffering complications. This is why it's so important to begin treatment as soon as a problem is noticed.
How to Cure Ingrown Toenails
If you have an ingrown toenail, don't panic. There are several steps you can take to treat the problem before it gets worse. Try these remedies:
- Soaking: Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. Fill a tub with warm water, adding one teaspoon of salt per pint. If this isn't possible, warm, soapy water will suffice. Soaking in the water will help reduce swelling and diminish tenderness.
- Cotton: After you've soaked your nail, insert fresh tufts of cotton beneath the ingrown nail. This will help encourage the nail to grow above the skin.
- Antibiotics: Topical antibiotics can help relieve some of the discomfort. Apply it with a cotton swab and keep the area bandaged.
- Shoes: You must simply avoid wearing tight or close-toe shoes until the condition has healed. Flip flops and slides are ideal, because the toes are left uncovered.
- Medicine: Don't shy away from taking over-the-counter pain relievers if you need them. Tylenol or Advil can help relieve the pain and reduce your discomfort.
When to See a Doctor
Even if you know how to cure ingrown toenails, sometimes home remedies just don't work. If this is the case, you'll need to seek medical advice. If the discomfort you experience is severe or you begin to see pus or redness that begins to spread, it is time to see a doctor. As mentioned, individuals with circulation problems are at greater risk for suffering complications, so it's especially crucial for them to seek medical advice promptly. Untreated ingrown Toenailstoenails can eventually infect the underlying bone and lead to serious problems, including bone infections. In very rare instances, an untreated toenail on diabetics may lead to foot ulcers (or open sores), which could result in the need for surgery. In fact, any small injury to a diabetic's foot can be dangerous. This is why it's important to check the feet regularly for signs of changes. Any change - even the smallest one - is worth a visit to the podiatrist.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Doing all you can to avoid the problem will save you from distress later on. Practice these preventative measures to avoid ingrown toenails:
- Toenails should be trimmed straight across, not cut to a curve. A podiatrist can perform regular trims on individuals with circulation problems.
- Toenails should be evenly cut to the tips of the toes - not shorter. When the nail is cut too short, the pressure from your shoe may force its way upon the skin around the toes, leading the nail to grow into the tissue.
- Wear shoes that fit well. Don't be afraid to ask for a proper measurement at a shoe store.
- Protective footwear, such as steel-toed shoes, can be helpful if your line of work is such that your toes are at risk of being injured.