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Ingrown Toenails: How to prevent them and when to seek treatment

Ingrown toenails can be painful and uncomfortable, causing redness, swelling, and even infection. Understanding how to prevent and treat ingrown toenails is essential for maintaining healthy feet. In this blog, we will explore practical tips for preventing ingrown toenails, discuss home remedies for early-stage treatment, and highlight when it’s necessary to seek professional care from a podiatrist. 

How to prevent ingrown toenails:

Choose proper footwear: Wear well-fitting shoes with enough toe room(advise patients that they should be able to wiggle their toes without in their shoes) and avoid tight, narrow footwear that compresses the toes and leads to ingrown nails. Proper fitting shoes equals reduced pressure on the nail’s edges and reduced chances of developing ingrown nails.

Improve your nail-cutting technique: Ensure to cut your nails straight across and avoid cutting them too short. Cutting straight across prevents the nails from growing into the surrounding skin thus, reducing the risk of developing ingrown toenails. However, if you already have ingrown nails, it would be best to make sure that the nails are rounded to prevent the nails from piercing the skin and causing an infection.

Avoid picking the skin around your nails: Try not to pick or dig into the sides of your nails, as this can damage the surrounding skin and cause inflammation. Inflammation leads to swelling and this leads to growth of the skin around the nail edge, thus, promoting the development of ingrown toenails.

Maintain a healthy nail length: Make sure to keep nails at a moderate length, neither too short nor too long, to maintain healthy growth patterns. Maintaining a moderate nail length prevents excessive pressure on the nail bed and minimises the chance of ingrown nails.

Keep toes protected: If you already have ingrown toenails, consider using protective devices like toe caps or cotton under the nail edges. Protective measures help keep the nails slightly lifted and prevent them from embedding into the skin, reducing the occurrence of ingrown toenails.

When should you seek professional care from your Podiatrist?

It is best to seek Podiatric care immediately when the condition becomes apparent as this will help Podiatrist advise you accordingly in the early stages of ingrown toenails. However, if you already have ingrown toenails that don’t improve with at-home treatments, it’s best to consult a podiatrist as ingrown can be persistent, and painful and you may develop an infection. Additionally, if you observe redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge around the ingrown nail area, these could be indicators of infection that require professional attention. Diabetic individuals, those with circulation problems, or individuals with compromised immune systems should also seek prompt podiatric care to prevent potential complications. Podiatrists are skilled in providing proper diagnosis, pain relief, and effective treatments for ingrown toenails, which may include minor surgical procedures to remove the ingrown portion of the nail or recommend appropriate steps to prevent recurrence and promote optimal foot health.

Podiatric Treatment Options: 

Preventing and treating ingrown toenails involves a combination of proper foot care, early intervention, and, if needed, professional podiatry care. By following preventive measures, practicing good foot hygiene, and promptly addressing early-stage ingrown toenails with home remedies, you can minimise discomfort and reduce the risk of complications. However, it’s important to recognise when professional care is necessary. If you experience severe pain, signs of infection, recurrent ingrown toenails, or have underlying health conditions, seeking podiatric care is crucial to ensure proper treatment and prevent complications.

Podiatrists are foot care specialists who can provide expert evaluation and tailored treatment options for ingrown toenails. Contact us to discuss the right treatment for you

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