Ingrown toenails are nails that grow into the nearby skin. Usually, that occurs in the big toe, but in rare cases, the smaller toes can develop ingrown toenails.
Ingrown toenails might seem like a minor problem, but they can progress to an infection and severe pain if you don’t treat them early.
There are three stages of an ingrown toenail, with different issues at each stage. These include:
A stage one ingrown toenail occurs when the skin at the side of the toe reddens and swells, causing discomfort.
If not treated, an ingrown toenail often progresses to stage two. In this stage, the nail becomes more painful. Abnormal new tissue (granuloma tissue) grows at the corner of the nail and produces pus, which is a sign of an infection.
A stage three ingrown toenail can occur when the toenail isn’t treated in the earlier stages. In this stage, the skin bordering the nail is red and painful. It continually seeps pus, and the granuloma tissue starts to envelop the nail. You may notice a foul odor coming from the nail, a sign of a significant infection.
It’s important to treat ingrown toenails as soon as possible, before infection occurs.
There are many causes of ingrown toenails, but the most common is improper toenail grooming. Cutting your nails too short or in a curved fashion can encourage the nail to grow under the skin, causing the ingrown toenail.
Wearing very tight shoes, stubbing your toe, or frequently kicking a ball can all lead to an ingrown toenail. Some people simply have toenails that are too big for their toes. That leaves the nails nowhere to grow but into your skin and can result in frequent ingrown toenails.
Columbus Foot & Ankle, P.C. offers ingrown toenail treatments of all types, based on the stage and severity of your symptoms. Some of the different treatment options include soaking the nail in an Epsom salt solution, topical antibiotic ointment, and splinting the nail to prevent it from growing back into the skin.
If you have recurrent ingrown toenails, you may need an in-office procedure to remove the ingrown part of the nail, including the nail bed. A laser or chemical treatment prevents the nail from growing back in that area.
Need help with an ingrown toenail? Call Columbus Foot & Ankle, P.C., or book your appointment through online scheduling now.