There are several common causes for nails that become ingrown, including:
- Inherited structure – Nails that are unusually curved are simply more likely to become ingrown than those that feature a more typical shape.
- Physical trauma – Dropping something heavy onto your foot increases your risk of developing this condition. Another source of physical trauma is accidentally kicking a hard surface of some kind or other, which helps explain why the toes on the edges of the foot have a greater risk factor than do the middle ones.
- Improper nail trimming – Patients who trim their nails too short or round them off have a greater rate of ingrown toenail occurrence than do those who clip them straight and keep the nails even with the edge of their toes.
- Ill-fitting footwear – Shoes that fit poorly create or contribute to a host of issues, including this one. Footwear that is too tight crowd the toes together, which makes it more likely that ingrowing will take place.
The best place to start with treating ingrown toenails is with home care. Using the following steps may provide the relief you seek:
- Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes in warm water to soften the nail tissue. This will relieve tenderness and can reduce swelling.
- After soaking, place a fresh bit of waxed dental floss under the edge that has become ingrown. Some sources may recommend using cotton, but this can potentially contribute to increased infection risk.
- Use antibiotic cream or ointment on the tender area and then properly bandage the affected toe.
When home treatment is insufficient, professional treatment options we provide may include lifting the nail, partial nail removal and, for recurrent cases, even removing the affected nail tissue altogether.
You might think removing a toenail would be painful—and especially if you consider how much it hurts when something gets deep between a nail and its respective nailbed—but this is not something to worry about. Anesthesia is used to numb the area prior to the procedure.
Once we have removed the nail, we will likely perform a special procedure to keep the toenail from growing back. The reason for this is simply to prevent the problem from repeatedly occurring.