An ingrown nail is a common ailment that usually affects the big toe and occurs when the nail plate grows into the delicate skin around the nail folds. You’ll need to examine yours closely to see how bad it is. You can usually deal with a slightly ingrown nail at home but you’ll need the right tool for the job.
The best way to tell if you have an ingrown nail is a pain when you bump your toe or slide your foot into a shoe. Furthermore, It may be hard, swollen, and tender to the touch. This problem will worsen if you ignore it as the nail will penetrate the skin and seriously infect it. You can recognize infection by the yellow pus and foul smell.
Common Causes of Ingrown Toenails
Trimming your toenails too short, particularly on the sides of your big toes is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. You may taper the corners of the nail to match the curves of your toes but this technique only stimulates the sides of the nail to curl down and dig into your skin. It may also happen if you wear Ill-fitting footwear, tight socks, pants, and shoes as these add too much pressure to the big toes.
Ingrown nails have many causes and some are congenital- a person’s toe might just be too large. It can also be the result of trauma such as stubbing your toes or being trodden on. The most prevalent cause, however, is tight shoes and improper cutting.
In short, you’re at risk of developing an ingrown nail if you wear shoes that crowd the toenails; if you trim them too short or not straight across; if you injure your toe; if you have curved toenails, infections, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes that result in poor blood circulation.
Moreover, teenagers are more prone to developing this condition because their feet tend to perspire more and it softens the nails and skin. Nail care habits that encourage the nail to grow into the skin, such as cutting the nails too short or rounding the corners promote ingrown nails as well as a reduced ability to maintain them.
Participating in activities, such as running and kicking put your toes at risk of injury, especially if you wear shoes that constrict your toes.
Slippers Are Causing More Foot Ailments
The recent pandemic has forced people to work from home and ingrown toenails are on the rise. This is because people began to use slippers for longer periods of time. This kind of shoe allows their feet to slide around and this isn’t good for the feet. In fact, it’s particularly bad for the toes.
You may not be aware of it but amputations due to improper foot care are common. Thus, the best way to deal with an ingrown nail and prevent infection is to soak your feet in warm salt water. You can also use a mixture of water and Epsom salts to reduce inflammation. Then, gently lift the edge of the nail with a sharp point and file it across. Be sure to use a topical antibiotic to help prevent infection.
Be sure to consult a foot specialist if the problem persists or the discomfort intensifies. This kind of doctor can partially remove a nail that’s digging into your skin in-clinic. The way they do it is by eliminating the portion of the nail that’s penetrating the skin. They can successfully prevent a recurrence by straightening the sides of the nail.
Ingrown toenails can be even more dangerous for people with diabetes and for those with chronic vascular circulation problems. This problem is more common in seniors and often leads to amputation due to infection, as we explained above. Their immune systems are weaker and so it’s harder for them to fight back.
An Ingrown Nail Is a Serious Matter
Firstly, examine your feet. Look for signs of ingrown toenails or other foot conditions daily if you have diabetes. This is because people with this condition are usually afflicted by poor circulation and damaged nerves in the foot so any complications can become severe. A minor foot injury, such as a cut, scrape, corn, callus, or ingrown toenail, may fail to heal properly and get infected.
Not only that, this kind of infection could extend to the bone underneath the nail and lead to blood circulation problems within the bone. Necrotic bone tissue must be surgically removed for antibiotics to work.
You may not be aware of it but any infection can turn into sepsis. This is a form of bacterial blood poisoning caused when your immune system goes into overdrive in response to infection. It reduces blood flow to limbs and organs, resulting in organ failure and even death.
“An ingrown toenail is a wake-up call to take better care of your feet,” says the vice president of the College of Chiropodists of Ontario who adds that “as foot doctors, we get to see the consequences of folks who don’t take care of an ingrown toenail. This condition affects roughly one-third of patients so don’t dismiss it, you could risk a serious infection.”
Ways to Prevent Ingrown Nails
The best way to prevent ingrown toenails is to protect your feet. For instance, wear protective gear, such as steel-toed shoes if your activities put you in danger of damaging your toes. You can also protect them by keeping them clean and dry at all times and wearing shoes and socks that leave adequate room for the toes. Furthermore, trim the nails no shorter than the edge of the toe.
Angling the sides of the nail is the wrong way to cut a toenail as it stimulates it to grow into the skin and is the most prevalent cause of an ingrown toenail. Instead, trim them straight across and curve them to match the form of your front toe.
Request that your nails be trimmed straight across when you have a pedicure. Be sure to consult a podiatrist on a regular basis if you can’t trim your nails due to a health condition that causes inadequate blood flow to your feet.
Maintain a moderate length of toenails and trim them to match the tips of your toes. The pressure from your shoes on your toes may cause a nail to grow into the tissue if you trim your toenails too short.
Unless the problem is congenital, the best way to prevent ingrown toenails is to protect the feet from trauma and to wear shoes and hosiery (socks) with adequate room for the toes. Nails should be cut straight across with a clean, sharp nail trimmer without tapering or rounding the corners. Trim the nails no shorter than the edge of the toe. Keep the feet clean and dry at all times.
Effective Ways to Remove an Ingrown Toenail
Learning how to properly clip your toenails is a good way to prevent ingrown ones. Seek professional help if you already have this problem. Indeed, there’s plenty of information on how to trim an ingrown toenail online but doing so at home might aggravate the problem and increase your risk of infection.
At-Home Treatment for Ingrown Toenails
Some healthcare professionals advise against treating ingrown toenails at home when the pain is extreme and the condition worsening and there are signs of infection. In turn, don’t cut the nails too short and trim them straight across, as opposed to rounded or pointy, and use toenail-specific scissors or clippers if your toenail is on the verge of becoming ingrown.
To relieve ingrown toenail discomfort, take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can also use a numbing cream or spray to relieve the pain. It won’t cure an underlying infection but will provide pain relief.
Furthermore, soak your foot in warm water several times a day, and add Epsom salt to relieve pain and swelling. Massage your foot and toenail gently to increase blood flow to the area, reduce discomfort, and speed up the healing process.
After soaking your foot, dry it thoroughly and use an antibiotic cream to prevent infection. Wear open-toed, loose-fitting shoes until your ingrown toenail heals.
Note that notching or trimming the edges of their nails on a regular basis won’t help you prevent ingrown toenails. Instead, reduce pressure by inserting cotton or dental floss under the ingrown area of the toenail. Keep in mind that putting cotton under the nail doesn’t alleviate pain and may actually increase the risk of infection.
Surgical Treatment for Ingrown Nails
Your toenail might be infected if there’s excessive inflammation, swelling, pain, and discharge. Seek immediate medical help if so as only they can prescribe the right antibiotic treatment and partially or completely remove the nail if needed. A specialist can surgically remove a portion of the nail, a portion of the underlying nail bed, adjacent soft tissues, and even part of the growth center.
Surgery can effectively keep the nail edge from growing inward and digging into the fleshy folds when the toenail grows back. Those with chronic, recurrent infected ingrown toenails may require permanent removal of the nail. A doctor may also suggest partial removal if you’re in a lot of pain and have a recurring infection. They usually numb your toe with an anesthetic and cut away the ingrown part of the toenail with scissors without disturbing the nail bed. An exposed nail bed is painful and removing it in its entirety increases the likelihood of it growing back deformed. It may take 3-4 months for your nail to regrow.
Our Top Ingrown Toenail Tools
3 Piece Ingrown Toenail Tool: Toenail File and Lifters
This product is a surgical safe treatment for your nails. Made of 100% surgical grade stainless steel, it never rusts and is easy to disinfect. It features non-slip curves that are easy to grip and handy to use. The tool is great for cleaning debris and dirt caught deep into the flesh of your ingrown nail right at your home.
The ergonomically designed nail file and the lifter will meet all the needs for toenails of different shapes, thicknesses, and health conditions. Also, the smooth burnished surface will allow you to comfortably pull apart your ingrown toenails. This is because they add just the right pressure when you push them against your sensitive part.
There are two designs of nail lifters to meet your every need be it lifting the corners of the nail to better get beneath it to remove the buildup or to allow you to remove bad stubborn ingrown toenails with ease. The tools are appropriate for children and adults alike and the little spoon-like ends work great for cleaning and removing old, dry skin. The first style is angled and measures 6.49 inches long. The straight lifter is 5.20 inches long.
This nail file is different from other traditional ones and features one straight end for filing the outer nail edge or surface and one curved end for filing the inner surface to round out the corners of the nail instead of two straight ones. In short, this tool is the perfect home accessory for every family, especially for those who are prone to ingrown nails. The price is $11.99 and you can order it from Amazon.
JTIEO Ingrown Toenail Tool Pedicure Tools
This nine-piece professional stainless steel toolset for ingrown and thick nails is perfect to take care of your nails at home although professional treatment is highly recommended for people with severe ingrown toenails.
This polished surgical-grade stainless steel pedicure set comes with an instruction manual that shows you how to use the lever mechanics to change the angle of nail growth and keep your nails healthy. It’s quite easy to use, rust-proof, water-proof, and comes with a nice plastic storage organizer with a snap locking top for easy carry and use.
The double-sized nail lifter is multi-use and can clean the dirt under the toenail as well as lift it while the ingrown toenail corrector adopts lever mechanics to change the angle of nail growth. It’ll straighten and widen the nail to keep it from growing inside the skin. It’s perfect for home and patient use and you can adjust the sides to adapt it to different nails.
Finally, the nail clipper and nail file have a long curved blade that can help you cleanly and smoothly cut ingrown or thick toenails. This product is $9.98 on Amazon.
Bcabo Upgraded 8 Piece Ingrown Toenail Tool Kit
This professional premium kit is great for ingrown toenail removal and correction and also as a pedicure tool. It includes a user manual with instructions on the proper lever mechanics to change the angle of the nail growth so as to provide relief and keep your nails healthy.
Made of surgical grade stainless steel with polishing finished, these tools are water-proof and easy to use and clean. The double-sized nail lifter can clean the dirt under the toenails as well as lift them and keep them neat to prevent future ingrown infection and subsequent pain.
The nail clipper and file have a special long curved blade to aid in the cleaning under the nail. The clipper is sharp enough to make a smooth clean cut on an ingrown or thick toenail.
Living with an Ingrown Nail
Try wearing supportive, well-fitting footwear – snug but not too tight. Socks are also acceptable for some periods of time. Moreover, consult a foot specialist if the problem persists or worsens. Ask them what’s the cause of your ingrown toenail and what would be the best type of treatment to heal it. Would it require surgery? Do you need antibiotics?
Furthermore, have a foot specialist advise you on the best way to trim your nails and the types of shoes to wear. Ask them about your risk of the ingrown toenail coming back.
Be wary of salon pedicures as these often lead to fungal infections that cause atypical nail growth and lead to ingrown toenails. All tools must be sanitized, and foot baths or bowls should be cleaned with a hospital-grade disinfectant.
Speaking of, many people believe a nail technician can help them get rid of or help prevent ingrown toenails but this is wrong. In fact, podiatrists often warn against pedicures and actually believe these can worsen the condition worse. Instead, they indicate that prevention is the best way to treat an ingrown toenail. Consult a podiatrist for tips and tricks to prevent future ingrown toenails and adopt healthy habits that promote your overall wellbeing.
Finally, you may not realize the importance of keeping healthy feet but good foot health is essential for an active life. Feet are complex, they contain 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Your feet support your balance, posture, and overall well-being and any ongoing problems there often lead to pain in your knees, hips, and lower back. These can also lead to imbalance, poor posture, and even problems with the function of certain organs. Thus, you must place the same emphasis on caring for your feet as you do on other parts of your body. Adopt it on our regular routine because, after all, healthy feet are happy feet and happy feet are the foundation of your wellbeing.