When Should You See a Podiatrist for an Ingrown Toenail?

by | Sep 19, 2019

Ingrown toenails are a frustrating problem that may be more common than you’d expect. Anyone with toenails can potentially develop this annoying issue.

And while some medical conditions are more common for certain demographics – bunions for women, Achilles tendinitis for men, osteoarthritis for seniors, etc. – this is not the case for ingrown toenails.

In fact, even babies can have this problem!

Now, sometimes we may feel like taking matters in our own hands. How hard can it be to get rid of an ingrown toenail at home, right? You might try soaking the injured toe in warm water to find some relief, or you may just let the situation take its course. And the good news is these measures will often be enough to correct the problem.

But what happens when the nail grows too far into the skin, or the area starts to show signs of infection? What if your ingrown toenail is actually keeping you from wearing your favorite shoes? Or worse – what if this problem keeps coming back?

These are all symptoms that indicate a more professional approach is needed. Let’s discuss this a bit more.

Know When to See a Podiatrist for an Ingrown Toenail

Including the indications mentioned above, there are many other factors that suggest it’s time to finally “pull the plug” on at-home treatment for your ingrown toenail. And if you also experience any of the symptoms below, make sure you reach out to our office right away:

  • You notice signs of infection, like excessive redness or drainage.
  • Your discomfort is interfering with daily tasks.
  • At-home treatment is not providing the relief you need.
  • You have a health condition that affects your blood circulation, like diabetes.
  • You have a health condition that prevents sensation in your feet, like neuropathy.
  • You constantly deal with ingrown toenails (this may be due to foot structure).

When you come to our office, we will perform a thorough evaluation of your condition and determine what exactly caused your toenail to become ingrown in the first place. It may be that your shoes are to blame. Footwear that is too tight or crowds the toes in the toe box will often contribute to ingrown toenails. And if this is the case for you, then simple changes in footwear may be all you need to prevent this problem from coming back.

In other cases, however, ingrown toenails develop due to foot structure. If your nails are naturally curved, for instance, the likelihood of toenails growing into the surrounding flesh is much higher. If we determine this to be the case, partial (or even complete) removal of the toenail may be necessary.

The only way to find out how to best treat your ingrown toenail is by coming to our office so we can take a better a look. We provide many treatment options that can help you find the relief you’ve been looking for this whole time!

Get Rid of Ingrown Toenails Once and for All

In a best-case scenario, an ingrown toenail can be treated by simply soaking the injured toe, lifting the ingrown edge over the skin flanking the nail, and taking measures to prevent it from continuing to become ingrown. It’s also a good idea to apply topical cream or ointment after this process to reduce the risk of infection.

But the truth is “best-case scenarios” don’t always happen, and sometimes a more aggressive treatment is necessary. If your condition is recurrent and/or causing severe pain, then surgery may be recommended.

You can rest easy, however, because though it may sound like removing a toenail is a painful task, this is definitely not the case.

Here is how it works:

  • First, we will numb the area with anesthesia before beginning the procedure.
  • We will then remove part of the toenail (or the whole nail, depending on your situation).
  • Following the toenail removal, we may also perform a procedure to keep it from growing back.
  • After surgery, the nail will be covered with antibacterial ointment and gauze.

And just like that, you can say goodbye to that painful ingrown toenail. Relief happens almost immediately! Even better, this procedure is done on an outpatient basis so you can walk right out the door once we are finished.

You should keep in mind that you will need to have someone drive you to and from the appointment, and that following all post-operative instructions once you are home will be a vital part of recovery.  

Prevent Ingrown Toenails in the First Place

Of course, preventing ingrown toenails is always better than getting appropriate treatment. So here are some tips to help you prevent this annoying problem from developing in the first place:

  • Trim your toenails the right way. Cut your nails even with the edge of your toe, making sure they are not too short or too long. Also cut them straight across – you should never round off your toenails.
  • Choose the right footwear. Avoid shoes that pinch your toes or place too much pressure on them. Opt for footwear that provides plenty of room in the toe box.
  • Keep your feet protected. This is especially true if you work in a job where you have a heightened risk of injuring a toe – be sure to wear steel-toed shoes or other forms of protective footwear.

And when you know it’s finally time to recruit some professional help for your ingrown toenail, you can trust your feet to the experts at Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic. Simply give our office a call at (989) 695-6788 today, or fill out our handy online request form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.

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