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What is An Ingrown Toenail?

The ingrown toenail can definitely be an irritation. Ingrown toenails are common, and occur when the side of the toenail grows into the soft flesh of the toe, resulting in pain, swelling, redness, and in some instances, infection. The ingrown toenail usually affects just the big toe, but can occur in any of the other toes as well.

Many times the ingrown toenail can be taken care of easily, but sometimes it will require a visit to the doctor if the condition becomes complicated, or if you have diabetes or other conditions that cause poor circulation to the feet and legs.

The symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:

• Tenderness and pain in the toe, along both or only one side of the nail bed
• Redness that surrounds the toenail
• Swelling of the toe around the nail bed
• Infection of the tissue surrounding the toenail (not as common)

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Painful and irritating ingrown toenails can be caused by habitually choosing shoes that cause your toenails to be crowded, toenails that are improperly cut, or from injury to the toe or toenail. There are also people who have unusually curved nails that have a tendency to become ingrown. If left unchecked, an ingrown toenail can cause serious infections.

Ingrown Toenail Home Treatment

Treating ingrown toenails can be managed at home via lifestyle modifications and home remedies. Ingrown toenail remedies include the following:
• Soak your feet. Soak your feet for around twenty minutes, three times each day. This will relieve tenderness and reduce swelling.
• Place cotton beneath the toenail. Small bits cotton placed under the edge of the ingrown toenail following a good soak will help the nail to grow out above the edge of the skin. Be sure to change the cotton each day, however.
• Apply antibiotic salve. An antibiotic ointment like Neosporin can be used on the toenail and the tender area, and then bandaged.
• Wear better shoes. Open-toed shoes, flip flops, or sandals will help the toe to heal and won’t irritate the toe further. • Take Tylenol. Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, or other over-the-counter pain medication can help to alleviate the pain of ingrown toenails. If the toenail is infected, or particularly painful, you may need to see your doctor or a podiatrist to have the nail removed surgically.

Prevention of Ingrown Toenails

Preventing ingrown toenails requires that you follow recommended trimming practices. Many people cut their toenails to match the curve of the toe, but this is not the healthy way to trim. Nails should be trimmed in a straight line across the toe and be at a moderate length that is even the tip of the toe. If the nail is too short, the pressure from your shoes will cause the nails to grow into the tissues.

When choosing shoes, be sure that they fit properly. Don’t wear shoes that put pressure on the toes or that pinch the toes. And if you work in a job where you are at risk of injury the toes, be sure to wear steel-toed shoes.
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