Painful Ingrowing Toe Nails

Painful ingrowing toe nails

Ingrowing toenails are a common condition which may cause discomfort or become infected leading to more serious health concerns. A Podiatrist or Chiropodist is a health care professional that is trained to treat ingrowing toe nail. However, always consult with a doctor if you have symptoms of infection, this may include pain around the ingrowing toe nail or the entire toe, discharge, a foul odour and the toe appearing red, hot and swollen. Always ensure if you have diabetes, a poor immune system or other foot problems to have it assessed by a qualified Podiatrist/ Chiropodist or your GP.

What is an ingrowing toenail?

This occurs when the side of the nail cuts into the skin next to the nail called the sulcus. Any toe can be affected, but it is usually the big toe and is usually caused by wearing narrow toe box shoes and trauma. It is a common problem, especially in pregnant women, sportsmen and women, teenagers and young adults.

What causes ingrowing toenails?

Ingrowing toenails are caused by a nail spike growing into the skin beside it. This can happen as a result of various factors. Not cutting your nails correctly, wearing poorly-fitting shoes or tight socks, and sweating a lot can all contribute. Active people may be more prone to ingrowing toenails as they sweat more. Ingrowing toenails may occur more often in people who have nails which are deformed in some way. Often there is no apparent reason why it occurs.

The correct way of cutting nails is straight across. This helps the nail to grow normally and may prevent ingrowing toenails from developing.

Other possible causes are injury to the nail, a fungal infection of the nail, or in rare instances medication such as isotretinoin.

When a nail spike pierces the skin of the toe, this allows for a window of opportunity for germs that are normally harmlessly present on the skin to get underneath the skin and cause infection.

Symptoms of an ingrowing toenail?

initially the skin around the ingrowing nail may become reddened and feel slightly tender. If it progresses and becomes infected, it may become swollen, red and painful. There may be some yellow or green fluid (pus) oozing from around the nail leading to an increase in pain and discomfort. Always consult with your GP if infection is suspected and you are suffering from any of these symptoms and if unsure seek a Podiatrist/Chiropodist opinion.

What is the treatment for an ingrowing toenail?

Ingrowing toenails are usually treated by a health care professional qualified to diagnose and treat foot disorders such as a Podiatrist/ Chiropodist or your GP. Please visit our nail surgery section www.hertswellnesscentre for further information. in all instances do not pick at your nail and cover the area with a clean dressing and soak the foot in a salt water foot bath until you see your Podiatrist/ Chiropodist or GP who will advice you further

If caught early

If the ingrowing part of the nail is small and infection is not suspected, it may be prevented from becoming worse, and sometimes cured, by the following these simple steps. This treatment may be given by a podiatrist or Chiropodist, and you may be shown how to do it yourself:
•Soak the toe in a salt water foot bath for no longer than 10 minutes
•Then, using sterile gauze, push the skin fold over the ingrown nail down and away from the nail. Do this starting at the root of the nail and move the cotton wool bud towards the end of the nail you may use Lamisil if you are concerned about infection.
•Repeat each day for a few weeks, allowing the nail to grow but always ensuring if you are to cut the nail this is done straight across and the nail is not cut back into the corners as this will encourage the nail to grow inwards.
•As the end of the nail grows forward, push a tiny piece of cotton wool or dental floss under it to help the nail grow over the skin and not grow into it. Change the cotton wool or dental floss daily each time you soak your foot.
•Do not cut the nail unless essential to do so and allow it to grow forward until it is clear of the end of the toe. Then cut it straight across and gently file the nail to smooth the edges.

When should I see a doctor?

See a doctor if:
•You have symptoms of infection as described above, If you have diabetes or a poor immune system or if you are systemically unwell
•You have a condition affecting the nerves or feeling (sensation) in your foot or due to diabetes diabetic neuropathy affecting the feet.

If your have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact us on 01992 568 555 and ask to speak with a member of our Podiatry team or alternatively your GP