Ouch!! Ingrown Nails

Now that the weather is starting to cool off and it is back to school, we are out of the sandals into our tennis shoes and work shoes. You or your child may notice that you are having some pain by your big toenail. This is a very common season to see patients in the office for ingrown toenails, as switching over to a closed toe shoe may be causing pressure on the nail causing it to become ingrown.  The big toe is the most common toenail to become ingrown because it is usually the one that pushes up against a shoe and experiences the most trauma caused by shoes.

There are many other causes for ingrown nails, which include:

  • Trauma caused to the nail
  • Kicking sports, such as soccer
  • Ballet
  • Fungal toenails
  • Pedicures-nails should always be trimmed straight across and never shaped
  • Tight fitting shoes

The symptoms of ingrown nails include:

  • Pain by the nail border
  • White discoloration of the skin where the nail is poking in
  • Redness surrounding the nail
  • Blood, pus or other colored drainage
  • There may be some increase in red tissue that bulges from where the nail is irritating the skin-this is called paronychia and is a common sign of infected ingrown nails

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may get temporary relief from soaking your toe in warm Epsom salt water and wearing open toed shoes. However, for the pain and possible infection from the ingrown nail to resolve, you will need to see a podiatrist to remove the nail border or entire nail depending on the severity of your ingrown nail. It is very important that you do not become a “bathroom surgeon” and try to pull the nail border out yourself as this may cause more pain and may introduce bacteria causing an infection.

At the office, I will be able to assess your nail and recommend which type of removal is best. The first step of the procedure, which patients say is the worst part, but overall is not that bad, is injecting your toe with numbing medication; it is similar to getting a shot, but then once your toe is numb you won’t having any pain from the procedure.  You will not have to be sedated for the procedure and it will only take 15 minutes or less. I will then remove either the offending ingrown nail border or the entire toenail may need to be removed depending on the severity. Also, depending on how often you get ingrown toenails, you may want to have the nail border or the nail never grow back if it is on ongoing problem for you. If your toenail is infected, I will prescribe a 10-day course of antibiotics, which will clear the infection.

There are very few if any complications from removing an ingrown nail, so if you or your child are experiencing an ingrown toenail please visit the Peak to Peak Podiatry (720) 600-3380 in Brighton, or Boulder County Foot and Ankle (303) 442-2910 for further assessment.

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