When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require a Visit to the Podiatrist?

Ingrown Toenail Podiatrist

That unrelenting, throbbing pain in your big toe –  the one that hurts with every step – is likely caused by an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails afflict about 5% of Americans every year. Sometimes they are remedied with home care. Other times, a podiatrist’s treatment is required. Kerry Berg, DPM of Intermountain Foot & Ankle in Colorado Springs explains how you can determine when that is the case.

Identifying your ingrown toenail

If the corner or side of the nail is embedded deeply into the skin next to it, it’s ingrown. Nearly always, ingrown toenails affect the big toe. Symptoms include pain, swelling, or redness on and around the toe. If you experience any of  these symptoms, it’s time to take action. If not treated promptly, this pesky problem can worsen, leading to the need for a surgical procedure in which Dr. Berg needs to remove part of your toenail.

Start with home treatment

If your symptoms are minor and brand new, you can first try treating it at home. Soak your foot in warm saltwater two or more times a day for about 20 minutes. Dry thoroughly and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream on the affected area. Be sure to keep your feet clean and wear clean socks and properly-fitting shoes. If necessary, take an over-the-counter pain reliever if.

When to call in the professional

If the symptoms don’t resolve or worsens, visit a podiatrist. Symptoms that indicate your ingrown toenail is getting worse and requires professional care, are any of the following:

What causes ingrown toenails and how to prevent them

Personal habits often are the culprit. Most common among these are:

Incorrect trimming

Don’t trim toenails in a u-shaped curve. Instead, to avoid an ingrown nail, always trim your nail straight across. If you must have a curve, use a toenail clipper and a nail file to make just a slight curve at the very top of the nail.

Wearing improper shoes

Pointy shoes may look great, but you will pay for being a slave to fashion. These shoes may force your toes into a cramped, unnatural position, and the pressure and friction can result in an ingrown toenail.

Women’s high heels can also cause ingrown toenails. A heel that’s 2.5 inches increases the pressure on the ball of your foot, including your toes, by 75 percent. This extreme pressure can cause the nail to sink into the flesh beside it.

Change your footwear if you’re starting to get an ingrown toenail that’s not from trimming your toes improperly. Your foot is telling you to relieve the pressure on it. Wearing shoes with a wide enough bed and with low heels can make can prevent future ingrown toenails, as well as other foot problems.

Call or book an appointment online with Dr. Berg at Intermountain Foot & Ankle for expert care that keeps you on your feet.

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