Incorrectly trimming the toenails and wearing ill-fitting shoes can raise your risk for ingrown toenails. While ingrown toenails are common in the big toe, they can occur in any of the toes. Symptoms of ingrown toenails may include swelling of skin surrounding the toe, pain, drainage, and increased redness and temperature over the affected toe. If you develop any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your foot doctor for an examination. Here are some conservative and surgical treatment options for ingrown toenails.
Conservative Treatment Options
One of the most common treatments for ingrown toenails is soaking the affected foot in warm water. You can add mild liquid soap, salt, apple cider vinegar, or Epsom salt to warm water and soak your foot a few times a day. Your foot doctor can recommend how much salt, vinegar, or Epsom salt to add to your foot soak. In addition to easing pain and inflammation, soaking your feet may also lower your risk of developing an infection.
If you experience pain as a result of your ingrown toenail, taking an over-the-counter drug such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help. Be aware, however, that acetaminophen does little to treat inflammation, while ibuprofen will help diminish swelling because it is an anti-inflammatory medication. If your foot doctor determines that your toe is infected, they will prescribe either an oral antibiotic or a topical antibiotic ointment.
If conservative treatments are ineffective at treating your ingrown toenail, then your podiatrist may recommend surgery. There are various surgical procedures that are effective in treating ingrown toenails. One of the most common procedures is known as wedge resection. During this procedure, the foot doctor excises a piece of the toenail so that it does not dig into the tissue of the toe.
In more extreme cases, surgically removing the entire toenail may be necessary. It can take up to a year or more for the entire toenail to grow back following toenail removal surgery. Your podiatrist may also perform a minimally invasive surgical procedure on the toe to drain pus or fluid from the soft tissue. Ingrown toenail surgeries are typically performed under local anesthesia in the doctor's office. You will not be given general anesthesia and therefore, you will remain awake and alert.
If you develop any of the above symptoms of an ingrown toenail, make an appointment with your foot doctor. When ingrown toenails are treated promptly, infection, tissue damage, and damage to the nail plate may be less likely to occur.