When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require Medical Assistance

Around 20% of people who make an appointment with their doctor for a foot problem have an ingrown toenail. These common injuries not only make it too painful to walk, but they also often lead to infection and other complications, especially if you have a health issue like diabetes. 

An ingrown toenail develops when the side or corner of a nail grows into the surrounding skin. They range in severity — with some only causing tenderness and others leading to swelling, pain, and pus. 

When untreated, ingrown toenails can become persistent, painful problems that interfere with your quality of life. That’s why Sean Rosenblum, DPM, our talented podiatrist here at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, offers expert ingrown toenail treatments for patients from in and around Lodi, New Jersey.

About ingrown toenails 

Normal toenails grow straight out and away from your nail grooves. Ingrown toenails curve and grow into the flesh on the side or corner of your nail bed. Ingrown toenails can develop on any of your toes but are most often found on the big toe. 

Some of the common causes of ingrown toenails include:

Some people are genetically inclined to develop ingrown toenails because of the shape or curve of their nails. 

Ingrown toenail symptoms

The earliest sign of an ingrown toenail is tenderness in the affected toe. You might have a twinge of discomfort when you bump it or pressure from shoes might become more uncomfortable or downright painful. 

As your toenail continues to press into the soft surrounding flesh, you might have pain on one or both sides of the nail, even when you aren’t wearing shoes or otherwise putting pressure on it. Eventually, your toe becomes inflamed, swollen, and red. You might develop an infection, causing pus or weeping drainage around your nail. 

When to talk to a podiatrist about ingrown toenails

If you have a mild ingrown toenail, you can try some at-home treatments, such as soaking your foot in a warm Epsom salt bath, keeping your foot clean and dry, and wearing shoes with plenty of room in the toe box. 

However, if your symptoms don’t subside within a couple of days or if they become more severe, it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Rosenblum. Any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus, should be evaluated by our team. When left untreated, an infection can spread into your soft tissue or the affected toe bone.

Health conditions like diabetes, peripheral artery disease (PAD), or other health conditions that limit circulation in your feet increase your risk of infection and complications. It’s crucial to make an appointment at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic when you notice an ingrown toenail, no matter how mild it may appear to be. Reduced circulation increases your risk of infection, ulcerations, and tissue decay, which can have a drastic effect on your overall health. 

Dr. Rosenblum offers personalized diabetic foot care and recommends routine podiatry checkups and nail care for anyone with poor circulation or reduced sensation in their feet. 

Preventing ingrown toenails

Even if you have naturally curving toenails, you can still take care of your feet and lower your chances of developing another painful ingrown toenail. 

Your priority should be correct nail care. Trim your toenails regularly. Make sure they’re straight across and even with the tips of your toes. You should also keep your feet clean and dry. 

It’s also essential to wear correctly fitting shoes that don’t squeeze or compress your toes. Choose styles with a wide toe box, and avoid high heels that can push your toes to the fronts of your shoes when you stand or walk. 

Finally, check your feet and toes regularly — every day if you have diabetes or another health issue that reduces your circulation — for toenails that appear to be growing inward. Ingrown toenails are always easier to treat when you catch them early.

If you have an ingrown toenail or need any other podiatry services, call our office, or schedule an appointment online today. Dr. Rosenblum and the team are here to help keep your feet healthy and pain-free. 

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