How To Treat An Ingrown Toenail

Infectious Diseases

How To Treat An Ingrown Toenail And Prevent An Ingrown Toenail Infection

Anyone who has ever suffered from an ingrown toe nail knows exactly how painful they can be. It doesn’t take a large piece of nail to cause a lot of pain. Minor ones are often referred to as “hang nails”, and they can happen both on the fingers or toes. However, it is more common for a toe nail to become ingrown to the point of infection.

Ingrown toe nails occur when a piece of the nail actually pierces through the skin. The body reacts to the nail as if it were a foreign object, like stepping on a piece of glass. An infection will develop as the body tries to push the nail out but since it is attached it can’t and the infection worsens.

There are two major reasons that people develop ingrown toe nails. The first is that the nail is cut improperly. Usually they are cut too short or too far down the side, a small bit of unseen nail is missed (like a spike) and as the nail grows, so does the spike. Eventually, the spike grows and punctures the skin. The second major cause of ingrown nails is the shape of the nail and the way it grows. This is where genetics come into play. Basically, the shape of the nail and the shape of the toe aren’t compatible. Sometimes the nail is too wide and flat whereas other times the nail can be too curved. The nail pushes up against the sides of the toe from inside and cause pain and infection.

How to treat an ingrown toenail

If an ingrown nail is caused by improper nail care, it can be relatively easy to treat. The spike of nail has to be removed and the side of the nail needs to be shaped properly in order to allow the nail to continue to grow without incident. Children and parents should not try digging it out by themselves. These spikes can be deep and hard to see. It’s best to have the nail treated properly by a foot specialist who has the tools and expertise to care for it. With a little education on how to cut nails in order to avoid a recurring ingrown toe nail the sufferer rarely has any issues in the future.

An ingrown toe nail can be a bit trickier to eliminate as easily if it’s simply caused by the way it grows. The offending bit of nail can be cut out quickly and easily to relieve pressure and help any infection start to clear up. However, as the nail grows it’s going to go right back to the way it way. Regular treatments by your foot specialist are needed in order to keep it under control but if your child is suffering from recurrent ingrown nails you may want to consider a more permanent solution. Regular treatments and preventative care can go on a life time, so eliminating the problem will save you and your child a lot of trips to the foot doctor down the road. Permanent nail removal (partial or total) will get rid of the part of the nail that is causing the problem and ensure that it doesn’t grow back.

Preventing Ingrown Toenail Infection

-cut your nails straight across and not too short

-do NOT dig down the sides

-avoid tight fitting socks and shoes

-avoid tight sleepers on newborns and babies

-check your children’s shoe size regularly

Want to read more on kids’ foot care?

Does your child have flat feet?

Are insoles needed?

Dr Dina Kulik, Kids Health Blog - nutrition

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Jana Charyk

About Jana Charyk

Jana is a registered Chiropodist. She owns and operates Ajax Foot Clinic in Durham Region. She treats foot conditions and offers foot care to people of all ages. Jana is a wife and a mother of two.

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