Infected Ingrown Toenail | Annapolis Ingrown Toenail Podiatrist Ingrown toenails can be painful and potentially dangerous. Infections that require medical treatment may occur when the nail edge protrudes through the skin. Here, our experienced Annapolis podiatrists explore preventive methods, symptoms, and treatments to support healthy healing from ingrown toenail infections

The Dangers of Ingrown Toenail Infections

Ingrown toenail infections can cause more than temporary discomfort and pain. These infections can also cause serious medical complications such as:

  • Cellulitis infections
  • Abscess formations
  • Bone infections 

Accordingly, you want to do everything possible to avoid an ingrown toenail infection and to treat one promptly if it does occur.

Tips to Prevent Infection in Ingrown Toenails

Proper Nail Trimming Techniques

  • Trim straight across. When cutting nails, rounding corners may encourage them to extend into surrounding skin and potentially cause ingrown toenails. Additionally, trimming them too short increases the risk of ingrown toenails, so it is wise to maintain an appropriate length for the nails.
  • Make sure nail clippers are clean. Before each use, ensure the nail clippers have been sterilized to reduce bacteria risk. 

Wear the Right Shoes

  • Wear appropriate footwear. Appropriate footwear is essential to stay safe in public spaces and work.
  • Choose shoes with enough room for your toes. Select footwear that allows your toes to move freely without exerting excessive pressure on the nails. Avoid tight or narrow shoes that could force your toes together, leading to nail impaction and ingrown toenails.
  • Opt for breathable materials. Select shoes made of breathable materials like leather or mesh to reduce moisture accumulation that could contribute to infections.

Maintain Good Foot Hygiene

  • Clean your feet regularly. Clean your feet using warm water and mild soap, paying particular attention to reaching between the toes and gently exfoliating the nail area. As soon as your feet have been washed, pat them dry with a clean towel, and make sure to get to any damp areas between your toes that could harbor bacteria growth. Moisture creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Keep the toe dry. Inspect it regularly throughout the day to ensure it remains clean and dry. If any signs of moisture or dampness surface, gently pat the area dry before changing socks or footwear as soon as possible.
  • Avoid excessive pressure or friction. Avoid activities or footwear that place too much strain or friction on your toe. Consider more comfortable options, consider custom orthotics, or adjust your activities as necessary.

Signs of Ingrown Toenail Infection

Sometimes, ingrown toenail infections occur despite your best efforts to prevent them. Recognizing early symptoms of infection is vital to successful ingrown toenail infection treatment. Common symptoms of an ingrown toenail infection include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pus or discharge
  • Increased warmth or temperature around the affected toe 

If you experience any symptoms, it’s essential to take swift action to prevent the infection from spreading.  

Treating an Ingrown Toenail

Professional medical assistance is likely warranted if you experience severe pain, persistent infections, or if your condition worsens. 

Early intervention is key to reducing complications and expediting healing for infected, ingrown toenails. Treatment options available to address ingrown nails could include:

  • Oral or topical antibiotics. In cases of infection, your health care provider may recommend oral or topical antibiotics to eliminate bacteria and promote healing.
  • Partial nail removal (nail avulsion). To relieve discomfort and avoid further infection, portions of an ingrown nail may need to be surgically extracted. For the same reasons, chemical cauterization involves applying chemicals directly to the nail bed to stop its infected portion from growing back again. 

In severe or persistent cases, your health care provider may recommend surgical intervention as a permanent fix for an ingrown toenail. 

Preventing infection with ingrown toenails is essential. Simple preventive measures such as using proper nail trimming techniques, wearing suitable footwear, maintaining good hygiene practices, and protecting affected toes from further injury can significantly decrease the risk of infection while hastening healing time.

 Always remain alert for signs of infection, such as pain, redness, swelling, or discharge. If these symptoms persist or worsen over time, we encourage you to contact our experienced Annapolis podiatry team.

Eric Harmelin, DPM
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Experienced Amputation Prevention Specialist and Podiatrist in Annapolis, Stevensville, and Glen Burnie, MD.
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