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Ingrown Toenail Q & A

What is an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails are a common condition that occurs when the corner of your nail curves and grows into the surrounding skin. When the nail digs into the skin, the surrounding tissue becomes irritated and inflamed, leading to pain, warmth, and redness that may look like a swollen bump next to your toenail.

If the nail causes the skin to break, bacteria can enter and create an infection. An infected toenail causes increased pain, fluid drainage, and a foul smell.

What causes ingrown toenails?

The most common cause of ingrown toenails is trimming your nails too short because this overly zealous nail-cutting encourages the surrounding skin to fold over the nail. Other possible causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Trauma such as stubbing your toe
  • Shoes that are too tight or fit improperly
  • Nail problems such as toenail fungus

Additionally, some men and women inherit a greater susceptibility to developing ingrown toenails.

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

The best method for preventing ingrown toenails is to trim your nails properly. This simple process involves cutting them straight across without making them too short. If you can’t get a fingernail beneath the end of your toenail, they’re too short.

You should also avoid wearing shoes with pointy or narrow toe boxes and never rip the edges of your nails.

How do you diagnose and treat ingrown toenails?

First, Dr. Kleis performs a physical exam and reviews your medical history. If he finds you have an ingrown toenail, he discusses the best treatment options based on the particulars of your case.

Minor ingrown toenails that aren’t infected usually improve with at-home care, such as soaking your foot in room temperature water and gently massaging the side of your nail.

For recurring ingrown nails a simple 10 minute procedure is performed to prevent the ingrown nail from returning in the future.  A small portion of the nail is permanently removed with little or no pain after.

For infected nails, Dr. Kleis may prescribe antibiotics. In severe cases, it may be required to remove the ingrown nail and relieve pain.  

Men and women with diabetes or poor circulation should schedule an appointment with Dr. Kleis at the first sign of an ingrown toenail to prevent serious complications.

If you experience redness, swelling, or drainage that may be from an ingrown toenail, call or book an appointment online today.

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