An ingrown toenail is something many of us have not-so-fond memories of at one point or another. If you have never had an ingrown toenail in your life to date, you are either very lucky or have the world’s most perfect toenails!
Our toes often go through a lot on a day-to-day basis, getting shoved into shoes, stubbed against furniture, or improperly clipped.
All these little influences and injuries can sometimes affect the way the nail (most often on the biggest toe) grows. Instead of a straight path, the nail can start to force itself down into the skin along the side. The result is pain, redness, and inflammation.
A mild ingrown toenail can sometimes be managed at home, with some caveats (which we’ll get to in a moment). However, there are several situations in which you should definitely come see us at our Myers Park or South Charlotte offices.
If you are facing any of the special situations we discuss here, never hesitate to reach out to us. In fact, you should never hesitate to contact us whenever you have any concerns whatsoever, no matter the degree!
When Does Your Ingrown Toenail Need to Be Seen by a Podiatrist?
It is far from improper to ask for help with an ingrown toenail problem. This is especially true if you are experiencing any of the following problems or situations:
Your Ingrown Toenail Does Not Improve After A few Days of Self-Care
You should start to see and feel some relief from an ingrown toenail after a couple days of home treatment. If you don’t, that may indicate that a deeper or more stubborn problem is at hand, or at least one that requires more advanced treatment than you can provide at home.
Your Ingrown Toenail is Especially Painful
Intense pain can be sign of a complication or infection. Even if it is not, however, you should not have to mess around with your own foot when it’s causing you agony! We have the tools and expertise to handle your ingrown toenail in a gentler, more comfortable, and frankly much faster manner, saving you plenty of pain and anxiety in the process.
Your Ingrown Toenail is Showing Signs of Infection
While intense pain can one sign of infection, it is not always a guarantee of it. Additional symptoms of a potential infection include:
- Redness that radiates and streaks away from the toe. The central area where this streaking comes out from may be lighter.
- Discharge of yellow or white pus from the area, or a buildup of it beneath the nail. (However, there may sometimes be some yellowish drainage in a standard, uninfected case. This is a normal response of your body, and this symptom alone may not be confirmation of an infection.)
- Swelling that seems excessive for an ingrown toenail.
- A fever, although this not a common immediate symptom.
An ingrown toenail that may be infected requires more than just standard care. You may need additional treatment to prevent more serious complications.
Your Ingrown Toenail Keeps Coming Back
Having an ingrown toenail every once in a great while can just be part of life. However, if you’re getting consistent ingrown toenails, it’s a sign that there’s something more influencing your condition.
Perhaps your shoes are too tight and exerting too much pressure on your toes. Perhaps you are improperly trimming or damaging your toenails in a way that is causing them to become ingrown. In some cases, simple heredity might just make your toenails more prone to grow in a curved manner.
Whatever the reason, we can help you get to the root of it and find a solution. In some cases, this means a change in footwear or lifestyle. When the problem can’t be helped externally, it might mean a minor surgical procedure to remove part of the nail.
The ultimate goal in any of these options is lasting relief.
You Are Living with Diabetes
The potential of diabetes to wreak havoc on the feet—even those that currently feel fine—is too great to let problems such as ingrown toenails go unchecked. Give us a call when you find an ingrown toenail, regardless of its severity.
How to Take Care of a Mild Ingrown Toenail at Home
If none of the above problems apply to you, then an attempt to treat your ingrown toenail at home—at your own risk—might be considered. However, here are those aforementioned caveats:
- Even in the best-case scenario, it may take a couple of days to start feeling better consistently. (Whereas office treatment offers immediate)
- Effectiveness rates are mixed, and there’s a chance you could end up feeling even worse or developing that infection you hoped to avoid anyway. (Whereas office treatment enjoys extremely high rates of effectiveness and satisfaction, and early intervention is the absolute best way to avoid infection.)
Basically, we don’t really recommend it, period. We’d much rather encourage you to come visit us and get your problem fixed quickly and easily, and we don’t want to encourage you to do something that could end up hurting you. So, like we said, at your own risk.
Or in other words, let’s answer the question originally posed by the title of this blog. When should you see a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail? The best answer to this question is always.
Still, if you’re dead-set on trying to solve the problem at home first, follow this protocol for a couple days and see how things feel afterward:
- Fill a small tub with warm water (feel free to add a couple teaspoons of Epsom salt, if you wish). Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes to help relieve pain and soften the nail tissue.
- Apply antibiotic cream, then an adhesive bandage to the toe.
Remember: if you don’t see improvement after a few days, give us a call! (Or just give us a call right away.)
Why are we even bothering to tell you this if we don’t recommend it in the first place? Well, in short, if you decide to take matters in your own hands, we’d rather you take a course of action that at least has some chance of success without dramatically increasing the risk that you’ll just make things worse.
Specifically, we’re talking about more “aggressive” efforts at home care. Never ever try to cut out an ingrown toenail, cut notches into your toenail thinking it relieves pressure, or otherwise conduct “bathroom surgery” on yourself. These methods cause much more pain than they’re worth, can increase your risk of infection, and just don’t work that well to begin with.
Help for Skin and Nail Problems of All Stripes
From ingrown nails to fungus and anything else that is out of the ordinary, rely on Carmel Foot Specialists to help you clear up the problem and keep it from coming back.
As we said, the process is pretty simple and straightforward. Painless injection, remove the ingrown part of the toenail, and use a chemical agent to remove the warped part of the nail matrix causing your ingrown toenail in the first place. You’re out the door on your own two feet, back to your regular activities within a couple of days, and the lifetime recurrence rate is less than 3 percent.
Does preventing weeks, months, or even years of suffering in just a couple of days sound good to you? We thought so.
Schedule an appointment by calling our Myers Park office at (704) 334-8682 or our South Charlotte office at (704) 542-8253.