The condition doesn't seem like much. The side of your big toe is a little red, and when you bump it, the pain makes you wince. However, ingrown toenails can actually become a big problem is you ignore them. If you have this condition, you need to know how to prevent and treat them.
Even babies can get ingrown toenails, although teenagers and older people are more likely to have them. If you wear tight shoes, the pressure on your toe or toes can force the toenail to grow into your skin. Cutting your toenails wrong is also a primary cause. If you don't cut them straight across, you are inviting the toenail to curve into the flesh. A foot injury can also be to blame. If you drop the vacuum cleaner on your big toe, don't be surprised if an ingrown toenail develops.
Although you may try soaking your foot at home to relieve inflammation or use some OTC products for this condition, you will often need the help of a podiatrist. Left untreated, an infected toenail becomes extremely painful. The infection can even spread to your foot. For people who are diabetic, an ingrown toenail can quickly become serious. Because these folks have poor circulation, the infection can spread and even lead to amputation.
Your podiatrist will use one of several methods to give you relief. The doctor may numb your toe and remove part of the nail, most often the side or sides. They may also remove some of the infected tissue and even part of the nail bed. In some cases, antibiotics will be necessary to control the infection.
A medical professional will also help you prevent a recurrence of the ingrown toenail. If you wear tight shoes, simply switching to a roomier style may solve the problem. If the problem was caused by an injury, a more extensive procedure may help cure the issue. Failure to address the cause can lead to multiple infections over a span of years.
People tend to laugh off ingrown toenails, but they can seriously impede your ability to take care of your work and home responsibilities. In addition, an untreated infection of any sort can lead to serious complications. Don't limp around and ignore the issue; seek help from a trained foot doctor. If you do, you may be able to get rid of the problem once and for all.