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Ingrown toenails are quite a nuisance. This is a condition when the nail becomes wider than the skin will tolerate. One edge or corner of a toenail — usually your big toe, although others can be affected — digs into the soft, fleshy neighboring skin.
That can be quite painful.
On top of that, you may experience tenderness, redness, and swelling in the affected toe. In some cases, an ingrown toenail can easily lead to infection of the surrounding tissues, including fungal toenail infections and buildup of pus.
While these symptoms can come and go as the skin accommodates the widening nail, the toenail will eventually be viewed as a foreign body — a literal version of a thorn in your side.
The good news, however, is that professional fixes (including permanent solutions for recurrent issues) tend to be simple and provide virtually immediate relief. Clearly, there’s no reason to keep struggling in silence!
Instead, just give us a call at (317) 545-0505 and request an appointment to see Dr. Leibovitz here at our Indianapolis office.
What causes ingrown toenails? Can you prevent them?
Unfortunately, there isn’t always an obvious cause for a case of ingrown toenails, and some people seem to be naturally predisposed to getting them.
Having unusually curved toenails, for example, often translates to a higher risk. Physical trauma, Father Time, and fungus involvement can also make the nail grow wider.
At the same time, there are some factors you can control.
Ingrown toenails are more likely to occur if you wear shoes that are too tight in the toe box, or if you cut your toenails too deep into the corners. (We LOVE “Bathroom surgeries” — they produce endless patients for us!)
Choosing roomier shoes and cutting nails straight across can help minimize your risks, but are not always guaranteed to prevent the problem.
Can you treat an ingrown toenail at home?
Although some mild cases of ingrown toenails are treated with a variety of home remedies such as OTC outgrow medications, using pieces of cotton or dental floss, or the famous cutting a “V” in the center of the nail, they will just get you into trouble.
And that is especially true if you have any other conditions that might put you at greater risk for an infection (such as diabetes or circulatory problems).
As noted, never attempt to perform “bathroom surgery” on yourself or anyone else by cutting the nail, as this will usually make the problem worse or cause it to reoccur.
In-office treatment is usually relatively quick and easy, with the best odds for success and the fewest risks. We recommend you leave this one to the experts.
What does ingrown toenail treatment look like?
Following a thorough evaluation at our office, we will select one of a few minor surgical procedures to fix this stubborn, painful problem.
Sometimes, ingrown toenails continue to reoccur despite preventative measures. In such cases, we often recommend a procedure that permanently removes the nail growth center (matrix) along the offending edge.
That basically means the edge of the nail won’t grow back and cause any more problems.
If you’re concerned about that being painful, please don’t be. We use anesthesia during the procedure, and you won’t experience pain once everything has healed the way we intend.
These procedures are performed in our office, require very little downtime, and can provide instant relief.
Pain is in most cases very minor, and those who undergo the procedure are usually back to full activity within a day.