You have ten toes and ten healthy nails, right? Well, sometimes toenails disappoint and cause discomfort when misshapen and surrounded by swollen skin. At Diamond Podiatry in Bethlehem, Macungie, and Quakertown, PA, your podiatrists call this Onychocrytosis or an ingrown toenail. Common to millions of people across the US, ingrown toenails should be treated to avoid infection and relieve pain.
Causes of ingrown toenails
Usually located on the outer edge of the big toe, an ingrown toenail intrudes on the skin, causing redness, pain, swelling and sometimes, infection. The most frequent reason people develop Onychocryptosis is poor pedicure techniques. When toenails are cut, shaped and rounded at the edges, the skin grows right over the nail, and hence the problem which bothers adults, teens and children alike.
Additional causes are shoes that are too pointed and tight in the toes, improperly fitting socks, poor foot hygiene, injury to the nail bed and even fungal toenails and their cousin, athlete's foot. Some research indicates ingrown nails run in families because, at least in some part, foot structure is inherited.
What you can do
Once you notice ingrown toenail symptoms, act on them right away. A warm soak in a foot bath will soften both the nail and the sore skin. Analgesics such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen relieve pain temporarily. Wear well-fitting sneakers or other shoes with ample room in the toes. Sandals work well during the warm weather.
However, if inflammation and discomfort continue, contact Diamond Podiatry for an appointment. After examining your foot, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to heal infection. Also, he may cut the toenail the appropriate way (straight across and never at an angle).
Finally, if the condition is really bad, your podiatrist may do a simple, in-office surgery called partial nail avulsion. This treatment removes a thin strip of the toenail from top to bottom on the affected side, alleviating friction and pressure.
Stay healthy with preventive measures
To ward off ingrown toenails, wear roomy shoes, wash your feet daily, and make sure your socks fit appropriately and don't bunch up in the toe area. Use a clean nail clipper to trim your nails, but never shape them at the corners the way you do with your fingernails. Cut straight across only.
Find out more
If you're hurting, worried about a toenail or wish to know more about preventing common foot problems, such as ingrown toenails, contact Diamond Podiatry. There's an office near you. In Bethlehem or Macungie, PA, call (610) 865-0311, or in Quakertown, PA phone (215) 529-5222.