What are ingrown nails and why do I get them?

As podiatrists, we typically treat ingrown toenails multiple times a day. An ingrown toenail is when a portion of the nail gets embedded into the sides of your toe. This happens most often with the big toe but can also occur with the smaller toes as well. More often than not genetics tend to be the largest determining factor of developing an ingrown toenail. If your nail grows too wide or makes an exaggerated arch shape, then you may be prone to having this issue. There are other factors that can cause an ingrown toenail such as injury, tight-fitting shoes, or fungus. Cutting your toenails improperly can also lead to an ingrown toenail. 

What to do about ingrown toenails and when do I need to see my podiatrist?

Wearing wider shoes is usually the best place to start along with proper cutting techniques. Not allowing your nails to get too long and cutting your toenails straight across can be helpful. The most important preventative measure is to not leave a corner that can dig into your nail folds. It can also be helpful to place a small amount of cotton under the corner to prevent it from digging in. If you are plagued by ingrown nails and they tend to be an issue every few months or so, then it’s time to see your podiatrist.

What should I expect when I see my podiatrist?

We love helping patients with their ingrown toenails because of the relief it provides them. Most of the time patients see us after the ingrown toenail has bothered them for a long time and bathroom surgery no longer solves the problem. If a patient delays too long, we tend to lean toward a permanent removal of the border of the nail that grows improperly. We anesthetize or numb the toe, next remove that offending nail border, then use a chemical and cautery to destroy the nail matrix that produces the nail, and lastly send you on your way. The recovery is simple with daily application of medicine and a clean bandaid until it heals.

For more information about ingrown toenails and to get a copy of this month’s Patient Newsletter featuring the condition, CLICK HERE.



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