When an Ingrown Toenail Requires Help from Your Podiatrist

There’s little quite like the irksome pain of an ingrown toenail. While not as severe as other medical issues, a toenail that grows into your skin rather than over it can become increasingly bothersome and even lead to complications in some cases. 

Dr. Kelly Geoghan provides comprehensive care for painful foot conditions, including ingrown toenails, in Lutherville, Maryland. Read on to learn more about this common issue and when to consider coming into our office.

Ingrown toenail basics

Anyone can experience an ingrown toenail. You can spur one by trimming your toenails too short or rounding their edges. Wearing overly snug shoes and socks, playing a sport that involves repetitive kicking, or stubbing a toe can also bring them on. If you have thick or curved nails, which is most common in older adults, you may be more susceptible to ingrown toenails.

Once you have an ingrown toenail, aching or throbbing pain around it is the most common symptom. The pain might worsen after being on your feet for a while and potentially make it more difficult to sleep. If the ingrown toenail becomes infected, your toe may appear red or swollen, feel warm to the touch, or release white pus. 

When to see a podiatrist

In some cases, ingrown toenail symptoms go away on their own or from home-care steps. You can try soaking your sore toe in warm water for 15-20 minutes a few times per day, for example, or wedge a small piece of a wet cotton ball under the corner of the nail to lift it away from your skin. If these efforts don’t help within three days, your symptoms are especially severe, or you notice signs of an infection, call Dr. Geoghan. 

Treatment for an ingrown toenail

If you have an infected ingrown toenail, Dr. Geoghan may prescribe antibiotics. If your symptoms are severe, she may recommend a minor surgical procedure to remove part or all of the ingrown nail. During this procedure, your toe will be numbed, so you won’t have to worry about pain. Dr. Geoghan will then trim the nail as needed. To prevent the nail from growing back into your skin, she may do away with some or all of the nail root through a process known as ablation. 

Once your ingrown toenail is no longer an issue, be sure to practice safe hygiene practices, such as trimming your nails in a straighter, versus curved, fashion and wearing comfortable, appropriately fitting shoes and socks. These steps will help safeguard you from repeat problems.

To learn more about ingrown toenails or get started with treatment, call Dr. Geoghan or request an appointment through our website.

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