Ingrown toenails are a common condition in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh. The result is pain, redness, swelling and, sometimes, an infection. Ingrown toenails usually affect your big toe.
Often you can take care of ingrown toenails on your own. If the pain is severe or spreading, your doctor can take steps to relieve your discomfort and help you avoid complications of ingrown toenails.
If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet, you're at greater risk of complications of ingrown toenails.
Ingrown toenail symptoms include:
See your doctor if you:
Common ingrown toenail causes include:
Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection.
Complications can be especially severe if you have diabetes, which can cause poor blood flow and damage nerves in your feet. So a minor foot injury — a cut, scrape, corn, callus or ingrown toenail — may not heal properly and become infected. A difficult-to-heal open sore (foot ulcer) may require surgery to prevent the decay and death of tissue (gangrene). Gangrene results from an interruption in blood flow to an area of your body.
Your family doctor or a foot doctor (podiatrist) can diagnose an ingrown toenail. Because appointments can be brief and you may have a lot of ground to cover, it can help to be well-prepared. Here are some tips to help you get ready.
What you can do
Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor during your appointment. Put the most important questions first, in case time runs out. Some basic questions include:
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions such as:
If home remedies haven't helped your ingrown toenail, your doctor may recommend:
Your doctor may also recommend using topical or oral antibiotics, especially if the toe is infected or at risk of becoming infected.
You can treat most ingrown toenails at home. Here's how:
To help prevent an ingrown toenail:
Ingrown toenail. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00154. Accessed Nov. 12, 2013.
Foot care. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html. Accessed Nov. 12, 2013.
Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed Nov. 12, 2013.
Eekhof AH, et al. Interventions for ingrowing toenails. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001541.pub3/abstract. Accessed Nov. 12, 2013.
Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.
Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
Living with Diabetes: Foot complications. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
Goldstein BG, et al. Paronychia and ingrown toenails. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
Apr. 03, 2014
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