Ingrown Toenails


By Matthew Paden

The usefulness of toenails is debatable. They offer a limited amount of protection for the tops of your toes, but can be removed without having much impact, apart from potential self-consciousness at not having a toenail. At this point they are likely just an evolutionary remnant from a time when humans needed greater natural protection, but without having much use nowadays. In spite of their lack of purpose, they require maintenance and can be the source of fungal problems. Also, if you trim them incorrectly, you can develop painful ingrown toenails.

Digging In

This nail problem is a common condition wherein your nails are curved and grow into the skin at the nail borders. This creates a painful condition in and of itself, but it also enables bacteria to enter the area and potentially lead to infection. Symptoms of an ingrown nail include redness, swelling, and discomfort. Fortunately, effective treatment options exist.

Root Causes

There are a variety of reasons that ingrown toenails happen, but the most common one is that the nails are trimmed too short and rounded off. When this happens, the skin next to the nail has a tendency to fold over it. Then, when the nail grows, it digs into the side. Other causes for this condition include physical trauma, ill-fitting footwear, and even heredity. If you stub your toe, drop a heavy object on your foot, or participate in activities that entail repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking a soccer ball or running, you will increase the risk of sustaining this condition.

Treating the Problem

This issue can be treated at home, but this is not the case if you suspect that an infection has set in or if you live with a medical condition like diabetes. For home care, start by soaking your feet in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times per day. This will relieve tenderness and reduce swelling. After the soak, place fresh bits of waxed dental floss under the ingrown edge to help the nail grow above the skin. Use antibiotic cream to ward off infection.

If home treatment does not work for you or if you have diabetes, come see us at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center and let our professional staff administer the care you need. This may entail either lifting, partially removing, or completely removing the nail, depending on your specific situation.

Helping Nails Grow Properly

The best prevention measure to keep your nails growing as they are intended is to trim them in a straight line and make sure they aren’t too short. Toenails should line up with the edge of the toe and not be rounded. In addition to proper trimming, wear shoes that fit you well and are not too short or tight, especially in the toe box. Ill-fitting shoes are a root cause for a variety of foot problems, including this one, so make comfort a priority when buying new footwear.

Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center is ready to provide you with first-class treatment for a wide array of foot and ankle issues, including painful ingrown toenails. Dr. Matthew Paden, Dr. Brett D. Sachs, and Dr. Dustin Kruse are Colorado’s leading experts in the field of podiatry who will give you the pain relief that you need. We have offices conveniently located for you in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, and Granby. Schedule an appointment by calling (303) 423-2520 or using our online form today!

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