Ingrowing Toenails- the good, the bad, the ugly
Updated: Apr 5
Think you might have an ingrowing toenail?
Worried about your favorite pedicure salon being closed to take care of it?
You are in luck.
...Not because you have an painful toenail, but we are here to help guide you on what you can do!
HERE IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!
We want to first give you a quick PSA on nail salon techs who claim they can "remove" your ingrowing nail. While you may have had the sides of your toenails cut in the past to experience relief, remember, your nail tech may be AWESOME but he or she is NOT a medical professional. It is often not until you get a horrible infection, do you realize you are not getting the proper care. Finding a pedicure spot that you can trust can be hard enough, but we would at-least advocate to steer clear of any nail tech who tells you they can "take care" of that painful ingrowing nail by "digging it out".
We recommend self treatment for mild cases of painful ingrowing toenails (which are described below) and, when in doubt, (or in more severe cases) to consult your doctor for treatment of such.
Thousands of people every year experience ingrowing toenails which can cause tremendous pain, and often can result in recurrent or chronic infections. While mild symptoms may occasionally be treated with simple home remedies, medical treatment is often required by a foot and ankle specialist to alleviate the problem and prevent future occurrences.
OKAY, so HOW serious is this really? How bad can it really get?
WELL... Lets just say as foot surgeons we have seen it all. With a chronic infection left untreated, you can get massive amounts of skin overgrowth around the nail, or even worse... a BONE infection. That is because there is nothing but bone underneath your nail bed. That means that WORST case scenario, if you leave your nail infection alone and never seek treatment, you could actually need a toe amputation! Yes, even in young people! This is of course quite rare, but something to consider (and to scare your children with if they are trying to hide it from you).
Some signs of an ingrowing nail include:
Spontaneous pain on the sides of your toenail with or without pressure applied
A "curved in" appearance on one or more of your toenail borders
Severe pain with or without milky drainage on one or more toenail borders
Redness surrounding your toenail with or without drainage
Increasing swelling or overgrowing of skin on the sides of your toenail
Any of these symptoms with any drainage and/or bleeding with pressure applied to the effected nail
CAUSES of ingrowing nails include:
Genetics (thank mom)
Tight fitting shoes
Overly aggressive pedicure treatment
Voodoo (just kidding, but maybe also seriously)
IF you ONLY have pain around your nail in question and no other signs of infection as mentioned above, you may attempt the following home treatments:
Soaking in luke warm soapy water (or with epsom salt as an alternative) for 10- 20 minutes a time up to 3 times a day. Be sure to wash the effected area with gentle soap and water, and keep the effected area clean and dry, perhaps covered with a bandaid.
Apply Neosporin and a bandaid to soften the skin effected by the ingrowing nail and to prevent bacterial overgrowth/ infection.
If you are successful with home treatment; please cut your toenails in a "straight across" fashion to prevent future occurrences. In other words- do not dig your nail clipper into the sides of your nails. Also wearing shoes with a wider toe box can help prevent them from coming back due to pressure irritation.
DISCLAIMER- IF YOU HAVE CIRCULATION PROBLEMS OR HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES, AVOID HOME TREATMENT ALTOGETHER AND CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR FOR MANAGEMENT
If you continue to have symptoms despite conservative efforts, we recommend you report to your local foot and ankle specialist to get the most safe and efficient treatment of this condition.
If you do decide to come into the office, what can you expect?
With an infected ingrowing toenail, we often will recommend that you receive a procedure in the office to drain the infection.
For some select cases we sometimes can get away with prescribing you an antibiotic while you continue to soak at home but this is less common.
We also offer treatments with this procedure that can prevent the nail from ever regrowing back into the skin.
Some severe cases require that we send a specimen of material from your infection to help guide further therapy. Usually if you come in early enough (and your infection is not severe), we will likely not need to do this.
BUT WE ARE IN QUARANTINE RIGHT NOW. IS IT SAFE TO SEEK TREATMENT?
Unless you have Fever, or other COVID signs, your best bet is to NOT present to an Emergency Room at this time.
Infections of any kind however, regardless of cause usually are best treated by a medical professional. Depending on the severity, your foot and ankle specialist may be able to answer questions via a tele-health visit and prescribe you medication, and can decide from there if you should physically come to the office. Keep in mind, typically an infected or chronic (lasting 2 weeks or more) painful ingrowing toenail may likely need a procedure to drain your infection. If it is determined that you should come in to the office, we are taking all possible precautions to ensure your safety at this time.
In or around the Houston/Katy/Fulshear area and think you need to be seen? Our office is open M-F 7:30-5, and we are taking same day appointments. Inquiries and appointments for both Dr. Mascorro and Dr. Hurwitz can be made at (281-391-1212).
Stay Safe Everyone!
Fulshear Foot and Ankle