An ingrown toenail may not seem like a big deal at first. But left untreated, it can cause some serious problems — even an infection that affects the bone. That’s why it’s important that you never ignore an ingrown toenail.
If you notice an ingrown toenail, it’s best to visit a foot and ankle specialist. At Concord Podiatry, our podiatrist, Dr. David Biss, provides comprehensive foot care and routinely treats problems such as toenail fungus and ingrown toenails.
You’re at a higher risk of complications from ingrown toenails if you have a condition that affects blood flow or your immune system, such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease. Here’s what you need to know.
What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows into the surrounding skin or when the skin grows over the edges of the nail. This most commonly occurs on the big toe, but it can happen to any toenail.
The following are common causes:
- Trauma to the toenail
- Improper toenail cutting
- Thick toenails
- Genetic predisposition
- Tight shoes
If you have an ingrown toenail, you may notice some redness, swelling, and even pain.
Complications of ingrown toenails
An ingrown toenail doesn’t go away on its own without treatment. That’s why it’s crucial to visit a podiatrist when you develop an ingrown toenail. If you ignore it, you may experience potentially serious complications, including a bone infection.
Medically known as osteomyelitis, a bone infection can develop when bacteria from an infection begin attacking the outer layer of bone. This can happen when the toenail or surrounding tissue becomes infected, and the infection makes its way to the bone.
If you have diabetes, you know the importance of diabetic foot care. Compromised circulation makes you vulnerable to ingrown toenail complications.
If you have an ingrown toenail, look out for these signs that you may have a toenail infection:
- Pus or oozing
- Foul smell
- Warmth around the nail bed
- Inflammation around the edges of the toenail
- Pressure under the toenail
An ingrown toenail can develop a bacterial or fungal infection. Certain bacterial infections, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are dangerous because they’re resistant to antibiotics.
What to do about ingrown toenails
Act quickly if you notice an ingrown toenail. There are some self-care steps you can take until you can see a doctor. At the first sign of an ingrown toenail, soak your feet in warm water for 15 minutes a few times a day. This helps to soften the skin so you can gently push it away from the edge of the toenail.
When you visit us at Concord Podiatry, Dr. Biss can offer several options for treating your ingrown toenail. Your treatment depends on whether you have complications, such as infection. In the event that you do develop an infection, we can treat the infection and prevent further problems.
To schedule a visit with Dr. Biss, call the office convenient to you to speak with one of our friendly team members.