An ingrown toenail may seem like a minor problem, but without medical attention, that minor problem can turn into a major infection. Even if you’re able to trim away the nail at home, it’s more likely to recur if you don’t receive care to address the underlying cause. Dr. Patrick D. Roberto of Achilles Foot Care has lots of experience treating ingrown toenails at his two locations, Delmont and Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Call the practice or book an appointment online to learn how Dr. Roberto can help prevent infection while also correcting the underlying cause so your ingrown nails won’t recur.
Normally, the edge of your toenail grows on top of the skin, but with an ingrown toenail, this edge grows into the skin and soft tissue along the edge of the nail bed. Ingrown toenails are more common among people who wear shoes that are too tight or too narrow and confined in the toe area, and among people with certain foot shapes (like a wide toe area of the foot) or with very curved toenails.
Women who wear high heels on a regular basis are also more prone to ingrown toenails since the foot is continually pushed into the toe box, where crowding causes the nail to grow into the skin. Some foot deformities or injuries also make ingrown toenails more likely.
The first symptoms of an ingrown nail usually are pain and redness around the edge of the nail bed where the nail presses into the skin. Without treatment, the skin becomes swollen and painful symptoms increase, especially when you wear shoes that press on the nail. Over time, the tissue can become infected, and you may notice pus in addition to significant swelling and pain. Eventually, an untreated infection can spread to the rest of your toe and even into other areas of your foot.
People with diabetes or other problems that affect the nerves or the circulatory system are more prone to infections, in part because poor circulation inhibits healing and also because nerve damage may prevent you from feeling the pain of an ingrown toenail until an infection has already set in. This is one reason why it’s so important to have routine podiatric care when you have diabetes or nerve- or circulation-related diseases.
If you have an ingrown toenail, you need professional treatment to prevent an infection. For very minor cases, Dr. Roberto may trim away the edge of the nail and elevate it with gauze to prevent it from growing back into the edge of the nail bed.
But often, Dr. Roberto needs to remove the entire nail need to prevent a serious infection. He removes the nail right in his office using a local anesthetic. In most cases, you can leave the office wearing your regular shoes. Dr. Roberto can apply a special medication to prevent the nail from growing into the edge of the nail bed in the future. If you have an infection, you’ll also need antibiotics.