Ingrown toenails, which occur when your toenail grows into rather than over your skin, can be excruciatingly painful. An ingrown toenail is usually mild, but when not taken care of, it can make it difficult to walk, and cause infections.
An ingrown toenail is an extremely common condition, and you might be wondering if your ingrown toenail will go away without intervention, especially if you commonly get ingrown toenails. According to board-qualified podiatrist Ryan Golub, DPM at Arizona Foot Health in Phoenix, Arizona, although ingrown toenails don’t go away on their own, treating them usually only takes an easy, fast, in-office podiatry procedure.
Here’s what to do when you notice you have an ingrown toenail, and how podiatry care resolves it.
What are ingrown toenails?
Normally, when your toenail grows properly, it grows up and over your toe. When your toenail grows into the flesh next to your toenail instead, you develop an ingrown toenail.
You can get an ingrown toenail on any of your toes, but most of the time they happen on your big toe. Signs you have an ingrown toenail include:
- The edge of your nail appears embedded in the skin next to it
- Your skin feels tender, appears red and swollen, or is painful to the touch
- Your toe appears, inflamed, pus-filled, or bleeding, all potential signs of infection
Ingrown toenails can happen to anyone, but some people are more genetically predisposed to them than others. You’re also at risk of ingrown toenails if you:
- Don’t trim your nails correctly, which involves trimming the nail straight across your toe
- Your toe or toenail was injured or infected
- Your shoes are too tight or narrow
- Your feet perspire excessively
Why not to treat an ingrown toenail at home
Since an ingrown toenail doesn’t go away on its own and can cause a lot of pain, you might consider trying to treat your ingrown toenail by yourself. Dr. Golub doesn’t recommend home care for ingrown toenails for the following reasons:
Your ingrown toe might be infected
Once your ingrown toenail has become infected, the only way to treat the infection is with antibiotics. Digging out the toenail at home won’t resolve your infection, which can continue to spread to become a severe systemic infection without treatment.
Home care can cause additional problems
You put your toe and toenail at risk by trying to fix an ingrown toenail at home. Without sterile equipment, you put yourself at higher risk of developing an infection, and you can also injure your toe while removing the nail.
You might have an underlying medical condition
If you have a condition like diabetes, Dr. Golub needs to examine the wounds from your ingrown toenail to ensure they’re healing properly and safely.
Healing your ingrown toenail
Having your ingrown toenail removed at Arizona Foot Health is quick and painless. If needed, Dr. Golub applies a local anesthetic to ensure you feel no pain during the procedure.
Next, Dr. Golub trims away the part of your toenail that’s grown into your skin. If the area has become infected, he prescribes antibiotics to treat your infection.
If you have recurring ingrown toenails, Dr. Golub can also prevent further problems by performing an in-office procedure that removes the outer edges and root of your nail, without impacting the remainder of your toenail. This is an outpatient procedure you can get right at the Arizona Foot Health office.
When you have an ingrown toenail, the more quickly you can get treatment, the better. To schedule an appointment for an ingrown toenail removal, call us, or request your appointment online.