Ingrown toenails can start as a minor annoyance but if left untreated, they can lead to infection. However, with proper care at home, you can prevent the condition from worsening.
Causes of Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails can be caused by various factors, including trauma and genetic predisposition. One common risk factor is improper nail trimming technique. Cutting the toenail at an angle instead of straight across can encourage the nail to grow into the surrounding skin.
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected toe. If the nail pierces the skin and causes a break, it can lead to an infection. Infection can intensify the pain and lead to additional complications.
If there is no infection, caring for an ingrown toenail can be done at home. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can be taken to alleviate pain. Soaking the foot in warm water a few times a day and keeping it dry can help. Wearing comfortable shoes that are not too narrow is also recommended. It is important to avoid attempting to cut the nail free on your own, as this can worsen the infection or introduce a new one.
If the ingrown toenail does not improve within a few days, it is advisable to make an appointment with a trusted podiatrist. Antibiotics may be prescribed to manage an infection, and in some cases, outpatient surgery may be necessary to remove the nail. If you have an underlying condition such as diabetes, it is crucial to seek professional care at the first sign of an ingrown toenail.