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Demystifying Ingrown Toenails: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

The image portrays a close-up view of an ingrown toenail on a person's big toe. The affected toe exhibits redness, swelling,

Ingrown toenails, though common, can cause significant discomfort and inconvenience. Understanding their causes, prevention strategies, and available treatments can help demystify this issue and empower you to take proactive steps towards healthier feet. In this blog, we'll unravel the mysteries of ingrown toenails and provide insights for a pain-free and comfortable future.

What is an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes infection. While any toe can be affected, the big toe is often the culprit.

1.Improper Nail Trimming: One of the leading causes of ingrown toenails is cutting nails too short or rounding the edges. This encourages the nail to grow into the skin.
2. Ill-Fitting Footwear:Tight shoes or high heels can exert pressure on the toes, pushing the nails into the surrounding skin.
3. Trauma: Stubbing a toe or dropping something heavy on it can cause the nail to grow abnormally.
4. Genetics: Some people have naturally curved nails that are more prone to becoming ingrown.
5. Poor Nail Care: Neglecting proper foot hygiene can contribute to ingrown toenails.

1. Proper Nail Trimming: Cut nails straight across and avoid rounding the edges. Don't cut them too short.
2. Footwear:  Choose well-fitting, comfortable shoes with enough room for your toes to move.
3. Toe Protection: If your work or activities put your toes at risk of trauma, consider wearing protective footwear.
4. Foot Hygiene:Keep your feet clean and dry, and don't forget to gently clean around your toenails.
5. Trimming Technique: If you have trouble cutting your nails, consider having a professional pedicure.

At-Home Treatment:
1. Soak your Feet: Soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salt can help reduce inflammation and soften the skin.
2. Lift the Nail: Gently lifting the ingrown edge of the nail using a clean piece of cotton can encourage it to grow properly.
3. Avoid Cutting the Nail: Don't attempt to cut the ingrown part of the nail yourself, as this can worsen the problem.

When to Seek Professional Help:
If the ingrown toenail becomes severely infected, causes unbearable pain, or if you have diabetes or poor circulation, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide appropriate treatment to avoid complications.

Professional Treatment Options:
1. Partial Nail Removal: In cases of severe ingrowth or infection, a doctor might partially remove the ingrown portion of the nail.
2. Antibiotics: If an infection is present, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to clear it.
3. Surgery:In rare cases, surgical removal of the ingrown nail edge might be necessary.

Ingrown toenails need not be a mystery. By adopting proper nail care habits, wearing suitable footwear, and being mindful of foot hygiene, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing ingrown toenails. If you're experiencing discomfort or infection, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, your feet carry you through life, so it's essential to treat them with care and attention.

Dr. Jairo Cruz Jairo Cruz Jr, DPM Dr. Cruz is the owner of Gentle Foot Care Clinics and provides medical and surgical foot and ankle care to adults and children. Dr. Cruz believes in the importance of educating his patients and the general community by writing blogs about popular topics. These topics come from questions that are often asked by his patients!

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