What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail happens when one of the sharp corners of a toenail digs into the skin at the side of your toe. It is a very painful condition that leads to swelling and possibly infection. If an ingrown toenail is left untreated, this can lead to a bad infection and even an abscess that can require surgical treatment.
Ingrown toenails are quite common in adults, but less so in children and babies. Although any toenail can become ingrown, the most likely toe to be affected is the big toe because of wearing tight fitting shoes and incorrect foot hygiene.
The symptoms of an ingrown toenail
Early on the symptoms of an ingrown toenail are fairly mild. You may experience some redness around the end of the toe and some mild swelling and pain. You may notice that the area is warm to the touch, but it’s likely that you won’t have a fever.
Once the infection has taken hold, the swelling will get worse. This swelling may mean that there is a white or yellow coloured pus that drains from the affected area. The redness in the area will also still be present, and you may develop a fever although this is rare.
How can you treat an ingrown toenail?
If the ingrown toenail is found early enough, then you can treat the condition at home. The treatments below can help with the pain and also prevent the need for surgery.
- Soak your foot in warm water at least four times a day.
- Wash your foot twice a day with soap and water. Make sure that you dry your foot thoroughly after this and try and keep it clean and dry throughout the day.
- Do not wear tight footwear or high heels. Try wearing sandals if you can until the condition clears up.
- Take pain-relief medication to help with any swelling and pain.
- Try to lift up the part of the nail that is pressing into the skin. Take a piece of cotton and press it between your fingers to form a small pebble-like shape. Then place this between the nail and the skin. This is the most painful but the most useful home treatment. After each soak of your foot, try and push the pebble a little further in.
If there is no infection found, your nail will be elevated and then conservative treatments will be offered. These treatments will include many from the above section.
As we mentioned earlier on, in cases where an infection is found, surgery can be used to remove the ingrown nail and drain any abscesses found. This can be performed by a podiatrist or at the hospital. The scope of the operation will depend on the extent of the ingrown toenail, the infection found, if it’s recurring and other medical conditions that you have.
We hope this article about ingrown toenails has been useful to you. To find out more about ingrown toenails and other common foot conditions, please explore our website further.