If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail, you know how annoying and painful the condition can be. The result of either a long and thick toenail or an improperly trimmed nail, an ingrown toenail occurs when the nailbed is pushed back into the toe by the growing edge of the nail. This causes inflammation and pain as well as a risk of infection. Ingrown toenails not only hurt but they take time to heal and are prone to recurring. If you’re prone to ingrown toenails, there are some treatments that can help prevent them from occurring again. Here are some effective ways you can treat your current ingrown toenail and prevent another one in future.
Talk to your podiatrist
If you have an ingrown toenail, it’s important to see a podiatrist as soon as you can. The sooner you treat the ingrown toenail, the less likely you are to develop an infection. Your podiatrist can help you decide on the best course of treatment based on the severity of your ingrown toenail. You may be prescribed antibiotics or antifungal medication, but some ingrown toenails can be treated without medication. Your podiatrist may also recommend some exercises to strengthen the muscles in your foot and ankle to help prevent future ingrown toenails.
Since an ingrown toenail is a type of inflammation, you’ll want to reduce that as much as possible. Ice, rest, elevation, and elevating the affected foot above the heart can help reduce swelling and pain. There are also creams, sprays, and ointments you can use to reduce inflammation and pain. If you have diabetes, you may find that you’re more prone to ingrown toenails than other people. If so, you may want to take an anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce the risk of infection. If you’re not diabetic and don’t want to take medication, you can also use a natural anti-inflammatory treatment like turmeric or ginger. You can also try to reduce your stress levels, which may also be contributing to your ingrown toenail.
Try a scraping procedure
If you have an ingrown toenail that’s not too bad, your podiatrist may recommend a procedure called a “scrape and curettage” to remove the ingrown portion of your nailbed. During this procedure, your podiatrist will shave off a portion of your nail to reduce the pressure and pain from the ingrown portion of your nail. After the procedure, you will likely have some swelling and pain, so you’ll want to rest your foot and keep it elevated. You’ll also need to keep the area clean to prevent infection. While the scraping procedure is fairly common, you might want to ask your podiatrist if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. This is especially important if you’ve tried other treatments but they haven’t worked.
Use a nail-shortening blade
If you have a really bad ingrown toenail, you may have to have your podiatrist remove some or all of your nail. But what do you do when all you need to do is trim your nail to reduce the risk of ingrown toenails in the future? You can use a nail-shortening blade to trim your nail to the proper length. It’s important that you use a sharp blade for this. Dull blades can cause you to cut your toenail too short, which can make the ingrown toenail more likely to happen again. If you’re not sure how to properly trim your toenail, you might want to ask your podiatrist for help.
Use a nail bandage
If your ingrown toenail is very mild, your podiatrist may recommend a nail bandage to help reduce pain and inflammation. A nail bandage is like a large band-aid that goes over your nail and wraps around the bottom of your foot. You’ll have to change the bandage daily while your ingrown toenail is healing, so it’s a good idea to get a few so you have some extras in case you need a fresh one. If you’re not sure if a nail bandage will work for your ingrown toenail, you can ask your podiatrist for some suggestions. If you’ve tried other ways to treat your ingrown toenail but nothing has worked, a nail bandage may be a good option for you.
Try an epinephrine injection
If your ingrown toenail is a more serious case, your podiatrist may recommend that you receive an epinephrine injection to help your body fight the infection. This will cause your ingrown toenail to swell, which will help your doctor better treat your foot. After the injection, your podiatrist may do a debridement to remove the infected tissue. Depending on the severity of your ingrown toenail, you may also have to wear a protective boot while your foot heals. You may need to take antibiotics to help fight the infection, so ask your doctor which ones are best for you.
Ingrown toenails can be painful and annoying, but they’re preventable. If you have diabetes, you may be more prone to ingrown toenails, so you may want to take extra steps to prevent them. Keeping your toenails short, avoiding wearing tight or restrictive shoes, and exercising regularly can all help reduce your risk of ingrown toenails. If you’ve already got a bad ingrown toenail, make sure you see your podiatrist for treatment. There are a few different procedures your podiatrist may be able to do to help you feel better.