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Treating & Preventing Ingrown Toenails

  • Dr. Bruce Zappan
  • November 03, 2017

When a toenail grows into the surrounding skin it can often cut into the skin, allowing bacteria to enter which can result in a painful infection. While some people have naturally curved nails that are more susceptible to growing inward, oftentimes the cause is improper cutting technique. An ingrown toenail will produce swelling and tenderness around the nail and you may notice redness and oozing, which are signs that an infection has developed.

Once a toenail becomes ingrown, it can be very difficult to treat. You can try warm foot soaks to soften the nail and then gently pull the nail away from the skin and insert a small piece of cotton to divert the nail and allow it to grow out. It may be necessary to have your foot doctor trim away any infected skin and trim the nail. This can be done in the office under a local anesthetic, and the recovery and healing period tends to be rather minimal.

Avoiding ingrown toenails in the first place can be aided by following these guidelines:

  • Proper nail cutting—Always trim your nails straight across. Rounding on the sides is one of the leading causes of nails growing into the skin. Try to keep the length of your nails consistent with the tips of your toes.
  • Wear the right shoes—Footwear that crowds your toes can push the nail into the skin, so always wear shoes with a roomy toe box.
  • Check your feet daily—Be sure to notice any nails that may have been cut too short before they have a chance to grow into your skin. See your foot doctor for treatment.

For diabetic patients especially, if you notice redness and swelling around the nail, consult with your podiatrist to avoid any further complications including possible infection and amputation. For any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles, it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, PA is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.