If you are experiencing pain around your toe, you may have an ingrown toenail; a very common condition in which a portion of the nail grows into the skin. While usually harmless, sometimes they can become infected or cause difficulty wearing shoes. At times, an ingrown toenail can even cause an infection that may spread to the underlying bone.
What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?
You may first notice your ingrown toenail when you put on shoes and feel pain around your toe. You also may gradually begin to notice pain with any light-touch to the area. The skin around your toenail may become swollen or irritated and some people see drainage on their sock.
How does an ingrown toenail happen?
Some of the most common causes are due to improperly cutting the toenail, tight or narrow shoes, injury, and sometimes a fungal infection to the nails– which can cause the nail to be thick. Your podiatrist can work with you to determine the cause of the ingrown toenail to help prevent future recurrence and alleviate your pain.
What if I think I have fungus in my nail?
If your podiatrist thinks you might have a fungal infection, they may take a small clipping of your nail to test under a microscope. They can determine if there is fungus in the toenail, and what kind. Our podiatrists can discuss the many treatments options including special topical medications that we can provide in-office, oral medication, foot soaks, or even laser therapy. We will work with you to determine the best treatment regimen for your situation.
Why is my toe red?
Sometimes ingrown toenails can cause infection. Your toe may look red around the nail, swollen, and you may notice drainage. Your podiatrist can safely remove the ingrown toenail using local anesthesia to provide you immediate relief. This will allow the infection to be removed from the area. Sometimes your podiatrist will even prescribe an antibiotic as you heal.
What can I do at home?
Many patients find temporary relief by soaking their foot in epsom salt. To make a foot soak, mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with a basin of warm water and soak for 20 minutes. This will help to soften the skin around the painful toenail. To prevent future recurrence, make sure you are cutting your toenails straight across and wearing properly fitting shoes with a wide toe box. It is not a good idea to try to remove the toenail yourself, as this can cause further damage and injury to the nail.
When should I see a doctor?
If you have pain or notice any changes in your nail or skin, it is a good idea to see a doctor for further evaluation.
You should always speak with your podiatrist if you suspect you have an ingrown toenail, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation.
For more information and treatment about painful toenails come see one of our skilled physicians who are happy to help. We have nine offices in South Florida to better serve you!