What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail is the medical term for where the edge or tip of the nail begins to grow into the skin around the toe. Whilst it is a common condition, it still can cause great pain and discomfort to those who are afflicted with it. An ingrown toenail will result in the tissue around the area swelling and becoming red, along with the chance of infection. This can become a particularly unpleasant problem making walking and other activities uncomfortable and less than straightforward.
What are the signs of an ingrown toenail?
As with all medical problems, the key is to spot the problem as early as possible to decrease the time and severity of it. These are a few things to look for with regards to an ingrown toenail:
- The skin next to the nail becomes tender and swollen.
- The area starts to look red and sore.
- It becomes painful.
- Area bleeds or oozes pus (signs that it is infected so go to the doctors!).
Causes of ingrowing toenails?
- Incorrect nail-cutting increases the chance of developing an ingrown toenail. By cutting the nail straight across as oppose to rounding the corners, you help the nail to grow properly and reduce the risk of it ingrowing.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes can also be a cause. Make sure you wear shoes that are not too tight or too narrow at the end as this can put pressure on the toes and squeeze the nail.
- Other causes include damage to the nail or a previous infection.
Treatment of an ingrown toenail
The good news is that an ingrown toenail problem can be solved through self-treatment and saving oneself a trip to the doctors if spotted earlier enough.
- Wearing appropriate shoes to alleviate the pain and pressure.
- One method is to soak your foot in warm water for 5-10 minutes to soften the skin around the infected area. Then, taking great care, push the skin away from the ingrown toenail (a cotton wool bud is best). This should be repeated everyday for a week or two, assessing to see how effective it is.
If your self-treatment has not been effective, or you failed to respond to the problem in time, then book an appointment with your doctor. When I had this problem I was prescribed a cream which was administered twice daily for 5-10 days and had the desired effect. Another option is to see a chiropodist who will help cut the problem toenail to try and sort out the problem.
That concludes this article, hopefully anyone suffering from an ingrown toenail finds this advice useful!