Everyone will have suffered from an ingrown toenail at one point in their lives. This condition affects people of all ages – from young children to the elderly. Ingrown toenails occur when the corner or side of the nail grows into the skin instead of growing on top of it. The big toe is the digit most commonly affected, but it can occur in other toes as well. Children are generally affected because their nail is wider than their nail bed and older adults will get ingrown toenails because of their curved, thick toenails. Here at Healthy Steps, we are in the know about toenails. Ingrown toenails are quite common and can be very painful, especially if they are not treated properly. Please read over some of the facts below before you consider operating (or digging into the inflamed nail-bed) on your big toe on your own.
• Improper nail cutting • Ill-fitting socks & shoes • Trauma to the toes • Genetics (large nail, curved nail shape) • Arthritis • Diabetes • Dramatic change in body weight • Change in gait (due to lower limb, foot, back injury) • Toenail fungus For those of you who are firm believers in good old “bathroom surgery” techniques, Healthy Steps would like to clear up a few myths.
Myths and Facts
MYTH: Cutting a “V” shape into the nail will stop the nail from curving downward. FACT: Nail growth is dependent upon the nail bed and cutting a “V” in the nail will not affect how the nail grows at all. MYTH: Trimming the nail borders consistently will stop ingrown toenails from happening. FACT: This can actually make the condition worse. Please stop doing this. Really. Stop it. MYTH: Placing cotton under the nail will alleviate the pain. FACT: Nope. In fact, this can actually help to breed harmful bacteria and spread infection. MYTH: You can buy effective ingrown toenail ointments over-the-counter at the Chemists. FACT: While these topical treatments can alleviate the pain, they will not address the underlying condition.
Ingrown Toenail Treatments.
If you don’t have any serious medical conditions (like diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation) and your toenail is not infected, then you can soak your foot in room-temperature water with Epsom salts. However, we strongly advise you not to try to perform a “kamikaze operation” on the affected area, especially if an infection is present. You will know that an infection is present because it will be red, swollen, painful, and most likely filled with puss.
At the Podiatrist:
• Your podiatrist will prescribe oral antibiotics if an infection is present. • Depending on your condition – a part of the nail or the entire nail may need to be surgically removed. The most painful part of this procedure will be the anaesthetic. • You will only require light bandaging after the surgery and will be able to resume your normal activities the next day. .
Preventative Measures of maintaining healthy feet.
• Stop cutting your toenails so short – you should be able to get your fingernail underneath the sides and end of the nail. • Avoid ill-fitting shoes. . So the moral of the story is -don’t cut off your nail to spite your toes, or something like that. A trip to your local Auckland podiatrist will ensure that you don’t cause yourself more harm than good. This is especially true for diabetics and people with poor circulation. Patients with joint replacements and pace makers are also highly susceptible to infections. Call Healthy Steps today for an appointment if you are experiencing any pain or inflammation caused by an ingrown toenail.