They aren't a glamorous issue to speak about. But ingrown toenails are an all too common issue which are often ignored until they cause debilitating pain and infections. Read on to find out a little more about what causes ingrown toenails and how we treat them at Henley Podiatry and Health Therapies.
What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail is a common issue where a piece of the toenail pierces the skin causing pain, redness, inflammation and infection.
Who gets an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail can occur at any age! However; we do tend to see them most commonly in growing teens and sports /active persons.
How does an ingrown toenail occur?
There are many genetic factors that can make you prone to ingrowing toenails, including your posture (the way you stand), your gait (the way you walk) and foot structure and any foot deformity such as a bunions and hammer toes. Your nails may also have a natural tendency to splay or curl out instead of growing straight, encouraging your nail to grow in to the skin.
One of the most common causes is not cutting your toenails properly, such as cutting nails too low and accidentally leaving a 'nail spike'.
Tight footwear, hosiery and socks can also push your toe flesh onto the nail so that it pierces the skin. Also, if you sweat excessively or don’t rotate your footwear, this makes the skin moist and weak so that it is easily penetrated by the nail. If you have brittle nails with sharp edges or are in the habit of breaking off bits of nail that are sticking out, you are also more likely to get an ingrowing toenail.
Less common is a fungal infection or in some cases particular types of medication, for example isotretinoin.
What should I do if I have an ingrown toenail?
You are likely suffering from an ingrown toenail if you have a painful toe starting near the nail area (the pain may spread further though!). The area might look swollen, red, peeling, bleeding or be weeping with a clear or yellow pus. Even having your duvet on at night could be excruciating!
In any situation like this we recommend keeping the area as clean as possible. An easy way to clean an infected toe is to bath it or 'douse' it in saline solution. (You can make your own saline/salt water solution by adding teaspoon or two to a mug of luke warm water). Ensure the area is completely dry prior to applying a plaster to protect the area.
Do not attempt to cut any nail away yourself! All too often people attempt to do this, and make things worse. Attempting to remove your own ingrown toenail often results in the embedded piece of nail being separated from the main portion of the nail, making things far worse and much more complicated!
Therefore book in to see our Podiatrist as soon as you think there may be an issue!
How can the Podiatrist help?
Our Podiatrists can help by using their expertise to remove the problem portion of nail and using their medical training to treat the infection.
In many cases we are able to easily remove the offending spike and help to 'retrain' the nail growth, without too much intervention.
However; in some cases, a severe ingrown nail, or some nail types will require a minor surgery with local anaesthetic to permanently remove either a portion of the nail, or the entire nail. This minor procedure is done by the podiatrist at Henley Podiatry and typically takes a few weeks to heal. (Healing times may vary dependant on the severity of the issue and each individual clients health and medical history). Some people may also require a course of antibiotics prior to surgery to treat the infection.
I have an ingrown toenail which appointment should I book?
If you have an ingrown toenail please book an Initial Assessment with our Podiatrist to assess and treat the problem.
During this appointment the podiatrist will take a full medical history and decipher the best treatment plan for you and carry out an initial treatment.
Please note: even if you think you may need the surgical option, we are required to have an initial assessment to discuss the surgery with you and ensure you are suitable for it. We will do everything we can to alleviate your pain and infection in your initial assessment to ensure the best outcome of your surgery also.
Call reception today on 01491 260320 or Book Online!
You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with any specific questions!