During that morning run, you notice the outside of your big toe hurts; when you get home, you may see that one side of your big toe looks red or swollen. You likely have an ingrown toenail--ouch! Dr. Steven P. Royall, DPM, with Mountain View Foot Clinic, LLC, in Lehi and Murray, Utah, treats this condition frequently, and his patients are up and running again in record time. Don’t hesitate to call or book an appointment online with Dr. Royall today.
Normally, your toenails form a slightly concave cover over your toes. When a nail is ingrown, it grows into the tissue of your toe. It’s a painful condition; the toe may be red or swollen, and it can become infected. Ingrown toenails most commonly occur on the big toe.
Shoes that place pressure on the toes are a primary cause of ingrown toenails. The condition can also include a strong genetic component or result from trimming nails too close to the skin, or simple wear and tear on the toes such as running, walking, or strenuous exercise.
Trimming your nails the right way avoids most ingrown toenails. Trim your nails straight across; don't make a curve to follow the curve of the toe. Keep the nails a moderate length--not too short. Use toenail clippers--not fingernail clippers, and make sure the clippers are cleaned and sanitized. Finally, wear shoes the proper size with enough room in the footbed, so your toes are not cramped.
People with diabetes may need to have their toenails professionally trimmed. Diabetes can damage nerves and lessen blood flow to your feet, causing serious complications, including severe infections or amputation.
If the condition is minor, wear sandals or open-toed shoes for a few days. If it persists, it's time to seek professional help.
Instead of painful surgery, in which the root of the nail is removed, Dr. Royall uses an in-office, painless chemical procedure called the P&A, or phenol and alcohol. It produces excellent results. Dr. Royall coats the root of the affected nail with an acidic chemical called phenol; this cauterizes the nail root. Alcohol cleans any remaining phenol from the site. Another advantage of the chemical procedure--it doesn't remove the cover from underlying bone, so there is little chance of a bone infection, which is a serious complication that can occur after a surgical procedure.
Occasionally, ingrown toenails result from a fungus, and Dr. Royall has effective treatments for that condition.