Sometimes people think of ingrown toenails are purely a cosmetic problem. In their early stages, they certainly can be mostly cosmetic as they may not cause any pain or discomfort. However, ingrown nails can eventually become painful, leading to bleeding, infections, and bruising around the nail. At this stage, it is a good idea to seek care, and the best person to seek care from is a podiatrist. As doctors who treat a wide range of foot ailments, they are the most prepared and trained to deal with ingrown toenails effectively. Here are three treatments a podiatrist may recommend, depending on the severity of your ingrown nail.
Trimming and Splinting
For mild ingrown nails, a podiatrist will often trim the nail in a way that encourages it to grow in a new and different direction, going forward. They may also use what's known as a splint to hold the nail up and off your nail bed. Basically, they will shimmy a splinter under the corner of the nail that is digging into your flesh. As the nail continues to grow, the splint will encourage it to grow more upward and outward, rather than down. You may need to go back for a few professional trims in order to fully correct your nail growth pattern.
Partial Nail Removal
If you have an infection under or around your toenail, your podiatrist may recommend removing part of the toenail. This makes the infection easier to treat. And in many cases, if enough of the nail is removed, it will begin re-growing in a newer, healthier direction after the removal. This sort of extensive trim can be a bit painful at first, so you will likely need to wear a protective sheath over your toe. However, most podiatrists use a local anesthetic so you don't feel pain while they are trimming your nail.
Full Nail Removal
A podiatrist can remove your entire nail and nail bed permanently so the toenail never grows back. This is usually only done after several attempts to trim and redirect the nail have failed. This is done under local anesthesia, and you will have some discomfort once it wears off. However, once the nail bed heals, knowing you never have to deal with an ingrown toenail again can be a relief.
For an ingrown nail that has become painful, infected, or otherwise bothersome, talk to a podiatrist about these options.
A few weeks ago, my wife made me go to the nail salon with her. Instead of sitting around for hours while my wife perused nail decals and polish options, I decided to get a pedicure. It was a really relaxing experience, but I quickly discovered that the process was about more than a foot bath. Before I knew it, someone was cutting and sanding my toenails. Unfortunately, a few days later I developed a massive ingrown toenail infection, which my podiatrist attributed to my visit to the nail salon. I want everyone to know how to properly care for their feet, so I made this website.