An ingrown toenail can be defined as a condition whereby either sides of the nail grow into the soft flesh surrounding the nail. This condition is mainly known to affect the big toe.
The occurrence of ingrown toenails is characterized by redness and swelling around the affected nail, pain and tenderness on either or both sides of the nail.
Some of the people prone to ingrown toenails are athletes. If the condition goes undetected or unattended to, an ingrown toenail may develop infections in the tissue. An infected ingrown toenail may lead to complications, such as the infection of the underlying bone.
• Wearing shoes smaller in number than your required size. Tight shoes cause a crowding effect to the toenails. The toenails will be forced to either bend or grow into the surrounding flesh.
• Cutting toenails too near to the base. Toenails that are too short may curl downwards and grow into the skin.
• Injury to the toenail. This could affect the growth pattern of the nail leading to ingrown toenails.
• Not cutting the nail straight across. Nails with rounded edges may have a similar effect as the short nails.
• Curved toe nails.
Treating an ingrown toenail can be done in two ways. The affected individual can prefer to treat his condition by using homemade remedies. Others may prefer to seek professional help, thus seeking the services of a qualified doctor. People who opt for ingrown toenail home remedies may do so because of the time and money they save by not visiting a doctor. Similarly, the procedures used to treat the ingrown toenail at home are simple and can be done as frequently as required.
Ingrown toenail remedies
• Soak the feet in lukewarm water for 15-20 minutes. The water should contain any one of the three combinations listed below;
i. One part white vinegar to four parts water.
ii. Dilute 1/3 of a teaspoon of Clorox in 1 gallon of water.
iii. 2 tablespoons Epsom salt per quart of water.
The process of soaking is intended to reduce the swelling and relieve the tenderness.
• A cotton ball or a piece of waxed dental floss can be placed under the nail, this will help raise and separate the nail from the flesh. This process should be followed on a daily basis, in order to help the nail grow above the flesh.
Other ingrown toenail home treatment may include; Application of an antibiotic cream on the affected toe and taking over the counter pain killers such as ibuprofen to ease the pain.
Ingrown toenails home treatment may not be effective, especially if the condition is far gone or the nail has an infection.
One should seek the services of a doctor if:
• The pain does not subside.
• Continuous discomfort.
• Unceasing production of pus.
• Redness that is spreading.
Ingrown toenail treatment done in a doctor’s office:
• Removal of ingrown toenail. This is mainly done when the condition occurs repeatedly on the same toe. The nail bed and the nail are removed to avoid another occurrences. The removal will prevent the nail from growing again.
• Antibiotic for ingrown toenails. These are recommended by the doctor in case the toe is infected or is at risk of infection.
• Lifting the affected nail. The doctor may use a cotton ball, dental floss or a splint to carefully lift and separate it from the skin. This method helps the nail to grow above the edge of the skin. Lifting the nail is a procedure meant for slightly ingrown toenails characterized by redness and pain and no pus produced by the ingrown toenail. The patient is advised to observe hygiene. The toe needs to be soaked and the materials used for separation replaced on a daily basis.
• Partial removal of the ingrown toenail. The doctor injects the patient with an anesthetic to temporarily numb the affected toe. He then either trims the nail or removes the ingrown portion of the nail in the affected toe. The decision depends on the severity of the ingrown toenail. This method of treatment is intended for more severe ingrown toenails that produce pus.
The occurrence or recurrence of the ingrown toenail condition, can be prevented in the following ways:
• Individuals should avoid trimming their nails in the same shape as the front of their toes. Toenails should be trimmed straight across.
• Protective shoes should be worn by individuals who are at risk of injuring their toes.
• The feet should be frequently checked for any signs of ingrown toenails and action taken.
• Toenails should be trimmed to the length of the tip of the toe. Too short nails allow pressure from the shoes to affect the direction nails grow in.
• Wearing shoes that have a proper fit to avoid compressing the toes, will go a long way to prevent ingrown toenails.
To achieve relief for ingrown toenails, one does not have to visit a podiatrist. Home remedies for ingrown toenails work as effectively as seeking medical help from a doctor, however, if the condition does not subside, it is advisable to seek medical attention.
Emphasis is placed on proper foot hygiene after treating an ingrown toenail. This is to ensure that the ingrown toenail condition does not recur.
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