Dealing with Ingrown Toenails – When to See Us

Jun 7, 2020

When they remain mild, ingrown toenails don’t always rise to the level of a “major problem” for otherwise healthy people. You might think of them the same way you think about paper cuts: painful, and more of a nuisance than a concerning issue.

But while some ingrown toenails are minor and can be treated at home, that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. Even “minor” ingrown toenails can sometimes develop into serious problems requiring professional attention.

Below are some examples of when we recommend you contact us about your ingrown toenail, as well as a simple home treatment method for minor ingrown toenails.

Times To Call Us for An Ingrown Toenail

One important note, here:

While the cases below are general guidelines for when your ingrown toenail may require professional attention, you should never hesitate to contact us regarding your symptoms, even if it they do not match the examples we provide below. We are more than happy to listen to your concerns and provide recommendations for a successful treatment regardless of the severity of the ingrown nail.

Dealing With Ingrown Toenails and When to See Us

Your Ingrown Toenail is Showing Signs of Infection

Lower levels of circulation and being enclosed in sweaty shoes all day makes injuries to the feet more susceptible to infection than other parts of the body. If your ingrown toenail becomes infected, it’s important to address it promptly.

In addition to severe pain, other signs of infection can include:

  • Abnormal warmth and swelling.
  • Red streaks radiating from the toe.
  • Drainage of pus.
  • Fever.

All these symptoms do not have to be present to indicate an infection. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to call us!

Your Ingrown Toenail Just Keeps Coming Back

Getting an ingrown toenail once in a blue moon is not uncommon, and not necessarily indicative of a chronic problem. But if you are getting ingrown toenails on a regular basis—despite how minor they might be—it’s a sign that something needs to change.

It might be your shoes are too tight or ill-fitting, putting pressure on your nails that makes them become repeatedly ingrown. Your toenail trimming habits could also be to blame. We can recommend changes which may curb the problem.

In some cases, however, you may have inherited a toenail shape that is naturally prone to curve into the skin as it grows. If this is the case, we will recommend a partial or complete permanent removal of the nail.  This is a simple in-office procedure, which treats the nail root (matrix) changing the shape of the nail by preventing the ingrown edges from growing back.

Man trimming toenails to prevent ingrown toenail

You Also Have Diabetes

If diabetes is in the picture, any small injury to the foot has the potential to become something much more serious and difficult to treat.

You should never attempt home therapy if you have diabetes and should seek medical care immediately. The risk of your ingrown toenail developing into a serious infection that could potentially lead to an amputation is simply too high.

Treating an Ingrown Toenail at Home

If your ingrown nail is relatively mild, then simple home treatment is not out of the question. We recommend these steps:

  • Soak the affected foot in warm water with 2 Tbsp of Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes
  • After the soak, pat your foot dry and apply an antibiotic ointment and an adhesive bandage to the toe.
  • Repeat the soaking once or twice a day, using a new dose of ointment and a fresh bandage each time.
  • Stick to open-toe shoes or shoes with a very wide, roomy toe box.

If your ingrown toenail becomes red and swollen, home therapy isn’t going to cut it anymore. You need to make an appointment with us.

Woman using salt for feet in foot bath

Get Expert Ingrown Toenail Treatment When You Need It

If your ingrown toenail is simply too much to handle alone, never hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to help you find lasting relief.

Remember, you do not need to “wait” for signs of infection or severe pain to come see us. You can always contact us earlier! We are happy to help you get rid of your ingrown toenail at any stage of severity.

Call our New Bern podiatry office at (252) 638-4700 or fill out our online contact form if you prefer to reach us electronically.