When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require Medical Treatment?

Do you have toe pain, redness, and swelling? It could be an ingrown toenail. An extremely common foot condition, an ingrown toenail might not seem like a big deal, but it can cause intense pain and lead to other serious health complications if left untreated.

Ingrown toenails develop when a portion of your nail gets embedded into the skin around the nail. Sometimes ingrown toenails aren’t painful and go away on their own. But more often than not, they cause irritation and discomfort.

Severe ingrown toenails can develop infection that intensifies pain. Some people find that ingrown toenail pain makes it difficult to wear shoes and walk.

Don’t ignore toe pain caused by an ingrown toenail. Let Jennifer Decker, DPM, and our team at Wiregrass Podiatry relieve your pain with expert ingrown toenail care. To make an appointment, call us or book online today.

Why ingrown toenails happen

The skin next to your nails is soft and delicate. When the side or corner of your toenails grows down into the skin, irritation, redness, and pain can develop. Ingrown toenails are most common in big toes.

Ingrown toenails can affect anyone at any age, but there are a few factors that might put you at increased risk for developing this painful condition. Some risks include:

  • Hereditary curved nail shape
  • Cutting nails incorrectly
  • Wearing tight shoes and/or socks
  • Sweaty feet
  • Being overweight
  • Having diabetes

If you have an ingrown toenail, you might be tempted to try at-home remedies before visiting the podiatrist. Soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts or castile soap can reduce pain and swelling, but don’t soak more than three times a day for 20 minutes at a time.

Using antibiotic ointment or cream on the ingrown toenail helps reduce your risk of infection and speed healing. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, when taken as directed, can relieve ingrown toenail pain as well.

When home remedies don’t work, or your ingrown toenail gets infected, you should get professional medical care. Seeking professional care helps relieve ingrown toenail pain, treat infection, and even prevent ingrown toenails from developing in the future.

When to go to the doctor for an ingrown toenail

It’s time to visit Dr. Decker if your ingrown toenail pain is persistent or you’re at risk for developing an infection. Signs of an ingrown toenail infection include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Bleeding and/or oozing pus

Dr. Decker is an expert at diagnosing and treating ingrown toenails to relieve your pain and get you back on your feet quickly. If you have an infection, she prescribes an oral or topical antibiotic to fight the infection and keep it from spreading.

Other treatments include removing the part of your toenail that’s ingrown or placing a splint under your toenail to keep the nail from growing into your skin. If you have an ingrown toenail, you should never try to remove the ingrown portion on your own at home.

After examining your toes and toenails, we can make recommendations to help you avoid ingrown toenails in the future. Trimming your nails properly and not wearing tight shoes can help prevent ingrown toenails.

For people with naturally curved toenails, partial or full toenail removal can eliminate your risk for ingrown toenails once and for all. We perform toenail removal procedures as outpatient procedures in our office.

Have a painful ingrown toenail? Find the best care with our team at Wiregrass Podiatry. Call our office or request your first appointment online today.

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