Ingrown toenails (onychocryptosis) can be caused by many reasons, such as:
- Natural shape of the nail (genetic factor)
- Injury or stubbing the toe causing the nail to grow into the skin
- Tight shoes
- Incomplete cutting of the nail, leaving a small nail spicule behind
- Cutting the nail too short
- Callus or debris buildup along the skin edge of the nail
- Treatment of toenail fungus. At the end of the nail clearing, the thick nail can press into the skin.
Whatever the cause, ignoring an ingrown nail can lead to pain and infection. Here are some home care tips in preventing an ingrown toenail:
- Avoid sharing nail clippers at home, dedicate one to each person
- Trim the nail to the length of the skin edge, rounding the edges with a nail file
- If your nails are hard or thick, do an epsom salt foot soak: put 1/2 cup of epsom salt in a bucket of water, soak foot for 10-15 minutes to allow the nail to soften, then trim.
If you feel an ingrown nail is developing, do not attempt to perform procedures at home. You can make it worse when professional care is delayed or home treatment is attempted with unsterile instruments. This is particularly important in individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes, circulation disorder, or neuropathy, for example.
When you make an appointment with Dr. Tea, she will offer the following treatment options:
- Education and recommendations on proper care for longterm comfort and prevention
- Medical treatment of nail disease, if present
- Removal of the painful ingrown nail using sterilized instruments to prevent infection. A local anesthetic is offered for a pain-free experience.
- Permanent removal of the ingrown nail border in cases of severe nail deformity or chronic recurrence
Rarely is antibiotics needed when ingrown nails are treated right away, so don’t delay care.