We know that toenails can seem like a fairly insignificant thing but for those of us that have had ingrown toenails, we know how much they can affect your life.
A painful nail that affects everything you do
I can tell you from my very personal experience, ingrown toenails are really painful and significantly limit what you are able to comfortably do.
Ingrown toenails form when part of the toenail begins to “dig into” the skin next to it.
Once this happens the skin can become irritated and painful.
Also, if the nail breaks the skin, the soft tissue can become infected, creating the classic, red, swollen and painful appearance of a classic ingrown toenail.
I developed an ingrown toenail after a traumatic injury to my big toe. I can tell you, it was so painful, I was unable to run regularly and felt really uncomfortable in normal shoes and even simple socks!
When you have an inflamed, swollen ingrown toenail, you will often need help in getting it fixed properly.
Know the cause, fix the problem
There are a number of causes of ingrown toenails.
Understanding how an ingrown toenail starts is the first and most important step in fixing the problem toenail long term. The most common causes of ingrown toenails are:
1. Trauma to the nail
If you bump or nock your toe, sometimes this can cause damage to the nail and/or the skin next to the nail.
Once this damage occurs, it is easy for the bacteria that normally live on your skin to get into the tissue and start a nasty infection.
2. Poor nail cutting
When you cut the toenail too short or leave a little spike or sharp edge on the nail, the toenail can start to dig into the skin as it grows or gets pressure on it.
Once the nail breaks the skin, an infection can then develop.
3. Picking the nails
Similar to cutting the nail badly, if you tear your toenails off, it is really common to leave a rough edge or corner on the nail edgel that can break the skin and allow an infection to start.
4. Nail shape
Some people are born with curled nails and others may develop a more curled nail shape as they age due to the way they move, the types of shoes they wear and general wear and tear on the nail.
Curly or involuted nails, tend to dig into the surrounding soft tissue and can become very painful even without the presence of an infection.
When you have an inflamed, swollen ingrown toenail, you will often need help in getting it fixed. These are the most common way we can help fix your ingrown toenails.
Some people opt to go see their GP for Antibiotics which can certainly help the infection. The problem with just treating an IGTN with antibiotics is that if the nail is still digging in, it is going to come back and still be a problem.
The most important thing to do when treating an ingrown toenail is to get rid of the piece of nail that is digging into the skin.
At Complete Podiatry, we usually start with a range of conservative options to clear the nail edge out before we do anything else. If we can remove the troublesome nail edge, your IGTN will feel immediately better.
If this does not work, the next option is a custom-made nail brace that bonds to your nail and helps to straighten it out. This special bracing treatment is called Onyfix and has been really helpful in treating painful ingrown toenails caused by excessively curly nails.
The final option is surgery. Toenail surgery can feel like a pretty intimidating thing if you have never had it before. However, our Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to do this procedure and have performed many of these procedures in the past.
There is always a risk associated with any surgery, so this option is usually reserved for when all other conservative options have not helped to relieve your ingrown toenail pain.
Get Your Ingrown Toenails Fixed
So my challenge for you is, if you have an ingrown toenail that is bothering you, make the decision to do something about it and start building your amazing life from the feet up.