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When Should You See a Specialist for an Ingrown Toenail?

If your big toe feels sore or swells, you may have an ingrown toenail. This common condition leads to skin growing over the edge of your nail, causing pain, swelling, and infection. At Achilles Foot Care, with two conveniently located offices in Demont and Monroeville, Pennsylvania, we can eliminate your ingrown toenail and the pain it creates.

But if this is your first ingrown toenail, or the condition is mild, you can heal your toe right at home. Here, we give you a few hints and tips about treating ingrown toenails, as well as advice on when you should seek out professional medical care.

How to treat an ingrown toenail at home

When you have an ingrown toenail, in many cases you can treat it at home. Start by soaking your foot in warm water a few times a day for 15-20 minutes. After soaking, thoroughly dry your foot, including between the toes. Take a small piece of cotton ball or dental floss, and slide it under your ingrown toenail. This pulls the nail slightly away from your toe, keeping it above your skin. Apply an antibiotic cream, and bandage your toe.

While your toe heals, be sure to wear shoes that have plenty of space around the toe. If possible, we recommend wearing sandals for a few days. If you have pain, take over-the-counter pain relievers to minimize your discomfort.

How to prevent future ingrown toenails

Along with this home remedy for ingrown toenails, you also need to prevent future issues. This starts with wearing proper-fitting shoes. To ensure your shoes fit right, the toe of the shoe, referred to as the toe box, should provide enough space so that your toes aren’t crowded, a frequent cause of ingrown toenails. When you stand up in the shoe, strive for a half--inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe.

We also advise all patients to cut their toenails straight across with clean, disinfected toenail clippers. Keep feet clean and dry, and protect them from injury by wearing shoes when necessary.

When to seek medical help for an ingrown toenail

It’s important to treat your ingrown toenail. If left untreated, ingrown toenails become infected and can fester. Not only does this create significant pain and swelling, but it can lead to severe complications, including a bone infection and gangrene.

To prevent these complications, we’re here to tell you when you should call the office for an appointment. Your ingrown toenail needs professional medical attention when:

How a podiatrist treats ingrown toenails

At Achilles Foot Care, we have a few different methods to treat ingrown toenails, and we determine the best one for you based on the severity of your ingrown nail, the frequency in which they occur, and the root cause of their development.

In mild cases, we lift the nail by placing cotton or a wedge beneath it. This elevates the nail above the skin, removing the ingrown nail and allowing the skin to heal. We may also remove part of the toenail where it becomes ingrown. In recurrent cases, we may need to remove the side of the nail, including its root. We apply a special medication that destroys the nail root, inhibiting re-growth and preventing future ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenails may seem like only a pain, but when left untreated, they can lead to serious medical problems. Don’t let that happen. Instead, call us at Achilles Foot Center, and get your feet feeling better.

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