If you notice signs of an ingrown toenail, such as tenderness and redness around the edge of your nail, you might wonder if you need immediate medical attention or if it can wait.
Ingrown toenails don’t heal on their own, but they can improve with at-home care. However, there are times when your best move is professional treatment.
Our podiatry team at Family Foot and Ankle Center of South Jersey in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, knows it can feel inconvenient to schedule a visit for an ingrown toenail. However, your health should always be a priority.
In this blog, we review ingrown toenails, including how to care for one at home and when to seek professional care.
Understanding ingrown toenails
An ingrown toenail is a nail that grows into the skin surrounding the nail bed. Ingrown toenails can develop on any toe, but they most often affect the big toe. During the early stages, you might notice the nail digging into your skin, along with swelling and redness.
Once the ingrown toenail worsens, you might feel pain or see drainage from the nail. These symptoms can make it difficult to wear socks and shoes. A nail that breaks through the skin provides an opening for bacteria, raising your risk of infection.
To prevent complications, all infected ingrown toenails require medical treatment.
Treating your ingrown toenail at home
As long as your ingrown toenail is in the early stages and shows no signs of infection, you can treat it at home.
At-home care for an ingrown toenail involves soaking the affected foot in warm water 3-4 times a day and rubbing the soft skin at the side of the nail. This treatment can reduce inflammation.
After you soak your feet, make sure to dry them off thoroughly to avoid giving bacteria a warm, moist environment to grow in. Also, wear roomy shoes to prevent irritating the nail further.
Note that if you have diabetes or a problem with circulation, skip the at-home care and come straight to our office for treatment.
When to seek professional care
Come see us for medical attention if your toenail doesn’t improve after three days of at-home care, your nail is too painful to treat, or you have signs of infection such as:
- Discharge from the toe
- Worsening inflammation
- Your toe feels warm
For a mild ingrown toenail, we lift the nail and use cotton to separate it from the skin, stopping its growth. However, more severe cases may require partial or entire nail removal along with antibiotics if it’s infected.
If you have an ingrown toenail that’s not improving with at-home remedies, contact us for expert care. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 856-381-0310 or book online.