Having an ingrown toenail can be extremely painful. An ingrown toenail can make walking very uncomfortable and lead to infection. Most often an ingrown toenail develops because a person trims the corners of their toenails down too far. A lot of people like to cut their toenails in a rounded off shape but this can cause the toenails to grow into the sides of the skin when it starts to grow back. Although this can happen on any of the toes, it is most commonly found on the big toe. Also wearing tight fitting shoes can cause this to happen.
The first signs of an ingrown toenail are pain, swelling, firmness and redness on the side that the toenail has started to grow into the skin. Once the pain is noticed it is extremely important to start treating the toe before an infection starts. There are a few things you can do at home to start the treatment process. Some of the ways to start treating the toe include, soaking the toe in warm water a few times a day, keeping the toe dry when not soaking, wearing loose fitting shoes or sandals to avoid any more pressure on the toe. If the toenail is starting to really embed itself you may need to lift the corner of the toenail and place a small barrier between the nail and the skin such as some dental floss or a small piece of cotton.
If you are beyond self treatment because an infection has started to set in then you need to see your doctor as soon as possible. In the case of a minor infection your doctor may be able to prescribe some antibiotics and bandage the toe properly so that the toenail is not pressing on the skin. However if the toenail is causing extreme pain and the swelling and infection are really bad, the doctor may have to perform surgery on the toe to remedy the situation. This could mean having some or all of the toenail or surrounding skin cut and removed.
You should use extreme caution when trying to deal with the problem on your own at home. Using unsanitary nail clippers or other instruments to cut the nail can be the cause of a serious infection. If an untreated toenail develops into an infection and the infection is left for too long you could suffer from blood poisoning or a bone infection with can cause serious injury.
Ingrown toenails seem to be common in teenagers and also in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes you are at a greater risk since nerve damage to the feet can impair the ability to feel the pain in the toes in the case of an ingrown toenail. Infection can set in quickly and a person may not even realize. People with diabetes also have limited blood circulation in the feet and this causes slow healing of any sores that may be located on the foot.
If you think you may have an ingrown toenail but are not certain that is what’s causing your discomfort, it is best to be seen by a medical professional. For people who have the inability to reach their feet or cannot treat the condition safely or appropriately it is important to seek help for your ingrown toenail to prevent it from progressing any further. If you notice any pus or blood that is coming from the toe or if your toe has swollen to the point where it is extremely uncomfortable to walk or wear shoes then you need to see your doctor right away.
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