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When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require Medical Treatment?

Toe pain, redness, and swelling are all signs of an ingrown toenail, but when is it bad enough that you need to go see a doctor?  If your toe becomes infected, you could end up with serious foot problems that go beyond mere discomfort.

Here at Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC, our team of expert providers can treat your ingrown toenail and give you tips for preventing this condition in the future. With more than a dozen convenient locations across southern Georgia and South Carolina, we’re here to help treat and prevent a wide range of foot problems for our patients.

Read on to learn more about what causes ingrown toenails and when to seek medical attention.

What causes ingrown toenails?  

When the side or corner of your toenails grows down into the skin instead of straight out from the nailbed, it cuts into the soft, delicate surrounding skin and tissue. This can cause irritation, redness, and pain. Ingrown toenails are most common in big toes and can affect anyone at any age. 

However, there are some risk factors for getting ingrown toenails, including:

  • Curved nail shape that runs in your family
  • Cutting nails in a sharp curve instead of straight across
  • Wearing too-tight socks and/or shoes
  • Constantly sweating feet
  • Diabetic conditions or being overweight

At-home ingrown toenail treatment

If you have a slightly ingrown toenail that doesn’t look or smell infected, try soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts or castile soap up to three times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Use antibiotic ointment or cream to help reduce your risk of infection and speed healing. You can also take a regular dose of an oral, over the counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

When to go to the doctor for an ingrown toenail

It’s time to visit our practice if your ingrown toenail pain doesn’t resolve in a few days, keeps coming back, or starts to show signs of infection. Pick up the phone and call us if you become concerned about:

  • Redness and heat in the toe
  • Swelling and pain
  • Bleeding and/or oozing pus

One thing’s for sure — don’t try to remove your ingrown toenail at home! This will cause you a great deal of pain and significantly increase your risk for infection.

We treat ingrown toenails almost every day, and our providers are experts at getting patients back on their feet quickly! Treatment options 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. 

We can also teach you how to trim your nails properly and help you choose footwear that won’t cause nail problems. If absolutely necessary, we can remove your toenail to permanently resolve the issue.

Have a painful ingrown toenail? Call your nearest Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC location to make an appointment today!

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