Ingrown toenails are an incredibly common issue treated at MK Feet Podiatry Clinic, so we have devised an introduction into the condition, including the causes and how it can be treated.
What Is An Ingrown Toenail?
Ingrown toenails are a condition where the nail pierces or irritates the skin on the side of the nail, and in some cases, causing a wound with a risk of infection. If inadequately treated, this condition may reoccur over time. While antibiotics may be used for treating the underlying infection, medication alone will not cure ingrown nails.
What Causes An Ingrown Toenail?
There are many different causes of an ingrown toenail, the most common being the following:
- Inherited wide or curved nail shape
- Improperly trimmed nails leaving a spike at the corner
- Tight footwear or poor biomechanics
- Trauma to the feet
The side of the nail may appear red and swollen and is often mistaken for an infection. When the nail is ingrown and breaks the skin, the wound will not heal properly unless the spike is removed. There is often an underlying infection due to the open wound, leading to further problems.
People with eyesight problems, mobility issues, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or other circulatory disorders, and children/teenagers should avoid any form of self-treatment and seek immediate medical attention. This is because ingrown nails can have complex complications and heightened risks for these groups.
To reduce the risk of infection, clean the toe(s) with saline solution and apply a small dressing to cover the wound until you can see your Podiatrist.
What Treatments Are Available For An Ingrown Toenail?
Your Podiatrist is highly qualified to treat ingrown toenails and infections. The particular treatment for this condition will include removing the spike and cutting back the nail to a length which will promote the nail to grow straight without causing more pain. A dressing may need to be applied to help encourage wound healing and reduce the risk of infection. The Podiatrist may also need to administer some antibiotics to treat any underlying infection.
Similar to having a piece of glass or splinter embedded in your skin, the offending spike of the ingrown toenail requires immediate medical attention and must be removed promptly.
In some cases, a section of the nail needs to be permanently removed; this procedure is called ‘Nail Surgery’. Podiatrists are experts in performing small delicate procedures with razor-sharp precision. Nail surgery is a very safe procedure which, in most cases, does not require stitches and provides aesthetically pleasing results with fast recovery rates.
Before nail surgery can be performed, a full neurovascular assessment with an in-depth medical history must be obtained to ensure the patient is suitable.