Woman with Painful ToenailToday, we humans have developed numerous ways to pamper our feet and toenails. You can have them filed and polished. Some people even get them scrubbed with ingredients like sugar and chocolate.

However, if you have toenails that are unsightly in any way, this can leave you feeling embarrassed or self-conscious and make you want to cover them up all the time. You may also need to know more about the perils of ingrown toenails.

How Ingrown Toenails Form

When something makes your toes curl, it’s usually a pleasant or thrilling experience. On the contrary, if your toenails curl, that’s a different feeling altogether.

An ingrown toenail is exactly what it sounds like; a condition that can occur if the nail of your toe grows into the surrounding skin instead of growing straight, penetrating it and causing discomfort and other problems. It is most likely to happen on your largest toe, or big toe.

The problem is generally marked by pain, redness, and swelling of the skin on either side of the nail. This may make it uncomfortable to walk, stand, or exercise.

The main basis for ingrown toenails lies in our footwear. We often trade comfort for style and some of these fashion statements can squeeze or pinch our toes together, creating a prime situation for ingrown toenails to form. In fact, anything that constricts your toes, including pulling your socks too snugly, can trigger ingrown toenails to develop.

Another source for this dilemma could be the way you groom your toes. It is best to clip them evenly, above the line of skin, and resist the urge to round them off.

Just about everyone has experienced that awful sensation of stubbing your toe. The pain is sometimes so severe that you may fear more extensive damage like a break or sprain. Even if there is no further impairment, the misstep can still increase your chances of forming an ingrown toenail. You also need to take good care of your feet by making sure they are clean, dry, and well-ventilated.

In addition, certain ailments can add to your odds of getting an ingrown toenail. If you suffer from any illness that affects blood circulation to the feet, such as anemia or diabetes, you will need to pay extra attention to your nails and feet.

A foot doctor can help you maintain your toenails when circulation is an issue or if you have a condition, like arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, which prevents you from capably clipping your own nails. You should also be checked regularly if you have any nerve damage that could hinder your ability to feel the pain of an ingrown toenail or other foot dilemmas.

Potential Risks of Ingrown Toenails

Those with a high threshold for pain may simply choose to ignore an ingrown toenail but this could be risky. When allowed to fester, an ingrown toenail can lead to contamination or disease. This happens because the puncture of the toenail through the skin makes an opening for germs to enter. The result can be as mild as mere discoloration or as serious as bleeding or a stinky discharge of fluid in the area.

Over time, an ingrown toenail can also begin to influence the bones of the toe and set off numerous complications. This is most likely to take place if it is left untouched or you have a disorder that delays wound healing.

Treatment Options for Ingrown Toenails

In cases where the ingrown toenail is not intense, you should be able to treat it at home with a foot bath several times a day or the regular over-the-counter painkillers you get at the pharmacy. The pain and discomfort should be alleviated by separating the nail from the skin with a piece of tissue or cotton until it grows longer and can then be cut correctly. You may also be given a prescription for medication to fight bacteria, such as penicillin, if an infection has started.

Another treatment option may be as straightforward as simply changing your shoes or style of footwear. If you experience chronic ingrown toenails or other concerns with your feet, you may want to have your feet measured and seek guidance about the proper footwear for your individual needs.

For ingrown toenails that are especially troubling, your doctor might recommend having part of the affected toenail and some of the adjoining skin removed. If your condition is more advanced and has led to alterations in the color or characteristics of the nail, a podiatrist could decide that the optimal choice is to do away with it completely. It is also possible to have the nail eliminated forever, but this is typically a last resort or might be done for people whose toenails naturally grow in an abnormal fashion.

It is important to discuss the potential for ingrown toenail recurrence and all treatment opportunities with your doctor. You should also request advice about your future foot-care responsibilities.