Ingrown toenails seem to appear suddenly and clear up quickly, but in the meantime, you’ll experience some degree of pain. It’s important to seek medical care from an experienced podiatrist like Dr. Mafutaga Tagaloa-Tulifau if you have a persistent ingrown toenail that doesn’t clear up because it can quickly become infected. Call her practice, Tagaloa-Tulifau Foot & Ankle Center, Inc in Lakewood, California, or book an appointment online anytime you need attention for a painful toe or foot.
Ingrown toenail, or onychocryptosis, occurs when the corner of a toenail grows into the skin. While any toe can develop an ingrown toenail, it usually happens in the big toe. The most common causes include:
When a toenail pierces the skin, the area becomes red, swollen, and painful. Sharp pain that worsens when you walk or put weight on your toe is the most common symptom.
Ingrown toenails that don’t clear up often become infected, causing more severe pain and drainage. If it goes untreated, the infection can spread to the bone and into your body.
Conservative treatment for an ingrown toenail usually includes:
If your ingrown toenail doesn’t respond to conservative treatment or it becomes infected, Dr. Tagaloa-Tulifau may recommend surgically removing the whole nail or just the part of the toenail that’s ingrown. It can be done using a laser, chemical agents, excision, electrocautery or curettage.
The best way to prevent the problem is by:
Wear shoes that are the right size. Avoid pointed toes or any style of shoe that compresses your big toe.
Property trimmed toenails are less likely to become ingrown. Trim your toenails straight across and keep them at a moderate length – toenails that are too short are more likely to grow into the surrounding skin. Also be sure to check your feet daily for sores or signs of redness so you can get treatment early.
Many people try to treat an ingrown toenail on their own, or they just wait to see if it heals and goes away. If you experience severe discomfort or have signs of infection, like pus, call Dr. Tagaloa-Tulifau or book an appointment online.