Podiatrist Inspecting an Ingrown ToenailIngrown toenails are a common foot ailment that affects nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States. At Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center, our board-certified foot and ankle surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating this painful and unsightly podiatric problem. Here’s what you should know.

Ingrown Toenails: What They Are and Why You Might Need Podiatric Care

An ingrown toenail occurs when a nail grows into the soft skin surrounding the nail bed instead of out and away from the toe. Ingrown toenails occur for various reasons. Some of the most common causes include wearing tight shoes that crowd your nails, cutting your toenails at an angle instead of straight across, or injuring your toenail. You might also develop an ingrown nail if you have unusually curved nails.

Most ingrown toenails resolve on their own with rest and at-home care. While they aren’t usually serious, if you have a health problem that affects your circulation, like diabetes, you’re more likely to experience an infection or complications.

Ingrown Toenail Signs, Symptoms, and Potential Complications

How do you know if you have an ingrown nail? The signs and symptoms are hard to miss. If your toenail is ingrown, you might notice the following:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Red, irritated skin around the affected nail
  • Pus or other signs of infection
  • Difficulty standing or walking (as the condition worsens)

If you develop an ingrown toenail but fail to seek treatment, the risk of infection significantly increases. That’s especially true if you have diabetes, a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar and poor circulation. When left untreated, an ingrown toenail may become infected, increasing the risk of gangrene or the need for amputation.

Ingrown Toenail Diagnosis and Treatment

At Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center, our Central Maryland podiatric experts are particularly adept at diagnosing and treating ingrown toenails. A typical diagnosis involves a careful physical examination of your feet and toes, a thorough review of your health history, and a discussion of your symptoms. If we suspect an infection, we might also order blood work or additional laboratory tests.

Treatment will vary depending on your symptoms and the severity of your condition. Our recommendations may include the following options.

Lifting the Nail

If you have a minor infection, we may treat the ingrown toenail by lifting the nail. This involves placing a piece of dental floss, cotton, or a splint underneath the toenail and gently raising it, allowing the edges of the nail to grow out and away from your skin.

Partially Removing the Nail

If the skin around your ingrown toenail is red, irritated, and oozing pus, we may need to perform a partial nail removal procedure to address the issue. We administer a local anesthetic before treatment to ensure your comfort.

Completely Removing the Affected Nail and Tissue

If you regularly develop ingrown toenails on the same toe, we might recommend completely removing the nail. This simple outpatient procedure uses targeted laser energy to remove the affected nail and underlying tissue.

Ingrown Toenail Prevention

In addition to helping patients kick painful and unsightly ingrown toenails to the curb, we can also provide the expert guidance you need to prevent them from returning or occurring to other toenails. Our goal is to provide effective treatment and equip you with the necessary knowledge to prevent future problems.

Schedule an Appointment

Don't wait for an infection to develop before seeking treatment for your ingrown toenail. Complete the contact form to schedule an appointment with a specialist at our Annapolis, Stevensville, or Glen Burnie location and take the first step towards giving your feet the expert care they deserve.