If you have ever had one, you know ingrown toenails can be annoying, painful, and even embarrassing. This rather common condition typically develops when the skin on the sides of the nail grows over the edge, or, when the nail itself pierces the skin. As the nail penetrates deeper into the skin, swelling, pain, and redness often result. Today Dr. Timothy Barry of Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper in Dubois County is sharing more information regarding this condition.

We find our patients develop ingrown toenails for several reasons. Improper nail-trimming is the most common cause. Other causes can include trauma from stubbing a toe or skin conditions like fungal infections, or nails that are just too big. In some cases, the condition can be inherited. Shoes that don’t fit properly generally worsen the condition.

Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:

  • Wearing properly fitted socks and shoes;
  • Protecting feet from trauma;
  • Trimming toenails straight across;
  • Keeping feet dry and clean to prevent infection.

If your ingrown toenail has not gotten infected, it can probably be safely treated at home by soaking your foot in warm water. However, we encourage you to fight the urge to perform your own “bathroom surgery” as this tends to make the condition, and the pain associated with it, worse.

When efforts to reduce your symptoms at home don’t work, or when inflammation, pain, discharge, or swelling develops, your ingrown toenail is probably infected and should be treated by a podiatrist. People who have diabetes, poor circulation, or nerve damage should always get proper treatment right away if an ingrown nail is identified, regardless of how severe it appears to be.

A podiatrist can examine the affected toe and determine the best treatment. If an infection is discovered, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Some other treatments may include removing or trimming the infected nail using a minor in-office surgical procedure.

Ingrown toenails may be painful and annoying, but rest assured they can be prevented and treated easily with the help of your podiatrist. If you’re dealing with a painful, annoying ingrown toenail, contact the office of Dr. Timothy Barry of Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper in Dubois County at (812) 481-7200 immediately to schedule a consultation.