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Dealing with an Ingrown Toenail: What to Do When You Have an Ingrown Nail

Foot & ankle specialists

An ingrown toenail can be a painful and uncomfortable condition that occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin. It can lead to redness, swelling, tenderness, and even infection if left untreated. If you're dealing with an ingrown toenail, here are some steps you can take to alleviate the discomfort and promote healing.

Soak your feet: Start by soaking your feet in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. This helps soften the skin and reduce inflammation. You can add Epsom salt or a mild antiseptic solution to the water for added benefit.

Proper trimming: Carefully trim your nails straight across, avoiding rounded edges. Cutting them too short or at an angle can worsen the ingrown toenail. If you're unsure or uncomfortable doing it yourself, seek professional help from a podiatrist.

Wear proper footwear: Choose shoes that provide enough room for your toes and avoid tight or narrow footwear. Opt for breathable materials that allow air circulation around your feet. This helps reduce pressure on the affected area.

Protect the area: If the ingrown toenail is causing discomfort or pain, you can place a small piece of cotton or dental floss under the edge of the nail to lift it slightly and relieve pressure. However, be cautious not to push it too deep, as it can cause further damage or infection.

Practice good hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent bacterial or fungal infections. Change your socks daily and avoid wearing damp or sweaty footwear for extended periods. Additionally, avoid picking or pulling at the ingrown nail, as it can worsen the condition.

Seek professional help: If the ingrown toenail doesn't improve or shows signs of infection, it's important to consult a podiatrist. They can provide appropriate treatment, such as removing a portion of the nail or prescribing antibiotics if necessary.

Remember, attempting to self-treat a severe or infected ingrown toenail can lead to complications. If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or a weakened immune system, it's especially important to seek medical assistance promptly.

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