Ingrown toenails are among the most common foot-related problems, affecting 18% of Americans 21 and older. At Annapolis Foot and Ankle Center, board-certified foot and ankle surgeons Eric Harmelin, DPM, and Rikhil Patel, DPM, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ingrown toenails. To schedule an appointment at one of the offices in Annapolis, Stevensville, or Glen Burnie, Maryland, call or book online today.
An ingrown toenail occurs when a nail grows into the soft skin surrounding the nail bed instead of out and away from the toe.
Most ingrown toenails resolve on their own with rest and at-home measures of care. They usually aren’t serious, but if you have a health problem that affects your circulation, like diabetes, you’re more likely to experience an infection or complications.
Common symptoms of ingrown toenails include:
As the condition worsens, you might also experience difficulty standing or walking.
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.
If you develop an ingrown toenail but fail to take action, 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.
To diagnose ingrown toenails, Annapolis Foot and Ankle Center physically examines your feet and toes, reviews your health history, and asks about your symptoms. If your provider suspects you have an infection, they might also order blood work or additional laboratory tests.
Treatment of ingrown toenails depends on the severity of the condition and your symptoms. Depending on your needs, Annapolis Foot and Ankle Center might recommend:
If you have a minor infection, your provider lifts the nail. To do this, they place a piece of dental floss, cotton, or a splint underneath the nail and gently lift it. This allows your nail to grow out and away from your skin.
If your nail is red, irritated, and oozing pus, your provider partially removes it. To ensure your comfort, they administer a local anesthetic before treatment.
If you regularly experience ingrown nails on the same toe, your provider might recommend completely removing the nail. This outpatient procedure uses targeted laser energy to remove your nail and the tissue underneath.
The goal of ingrown toenail treatment is to minimize pain, prevent infection, and encourage your body’s natural healing process.
To further explore treatment for ingrown toenails, make an appointment at Annapolis Foot and Ankle Center. Call the nearest office or book online today.