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Are Socks The Cause of Your Ingrown Toenails?

Socks Too Tight?
Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists

We’ve already discussed tight or ill-fitting shoes being a cause for ingrown toenails. But did you know that tight socks can also be to blame? Who knew fabric could do so much potential damage?

The culprit isn’t the fabric itself, but the pressure a tight sock might put on your toes, especially your big toes. Early signs of an ingrown toenail include:

• Pain when pressure is applied to the toe.
• Fluid build-up.
• Tender, swollen, or hard skin next to the toenail.

The most dangerous part about having an ingrown toenail is that your toe might become infected. Some signs of infection include:

• Pain.
• Overgrowth of the skin around the nail.
• Bleeding.
• Oozing pus.
• Redness and swelling.
• Warmth.

What happens if your ingrown toenail becomes infected?
If you have diabetes or numbness in the extremities, there’s a good chance you may not notice if you have an ingrown toenail. It’s also possible that home treatments just don’t work for your ingrown toenail and you have to see a specialist about it.

If your ingrown toenail is extreme or caused by an injury, your doctor may take an x-ray to determine how far into the skin your toenail has grown. If it’s infected and regular treatments don’t work, you may need surgery to remove part or all of the toenail.

Surgical Treatment
1. Partial Nail Removal
Essentially, an ingrown toenail that has grown too far into the skin has to be narrowed by the doctor. A local anesthetic is applied, and the doctor then cuts the nail very straight and places a piece of cotton between the nail and the skin to keep it from growing back into the skin. To keep the nail from growing back at all, your doctor may opt for applying a compound called phenol.

2. Total Nail Removal
If your ingrown nail is due to thickening, the doctor may opt to remove the entire nail and let it grow back brand new. This might be the recommendation if your toenail is deformed due to fungus or infection.

After surgery, your toe will be bandaged and you’ll have to keep your foot elevated for about two days. Once the bandage is removed, you’ll have to wear open-toed shoes and soak your feet daily in salt water until it heals.

Prevention
The best way to avoid the pain of surgery is to take good care of your feet and toenails. You can easily do this by maintaining healthy foot care habits.

• Trim your toenails straight across while making sure the edges aren’t curved.
• Wear properly fitting shoes and socks.
• Don’t cut your toenails too short.
• Wear protective shoes like steel-toe boots if you work in a hazardous environment where you might drop something heavy on your toes or feet and cause trauma.

If you have diabetes or chronic numbness, an ingrown toenail may go unnoticed for too long and cause more problems than just an infection. Make sure you or someone who helps to take care of you checks on your feet and your toenails on a regular basis to avoid unnecessary pain and hardship.

If you aren’t sure what’s going on, need help, or would like to see a Milwaukee WI podiatrist to give you professional input, we’re here to help! Call Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists for assistance at 414.257.0676.

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This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.

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Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists of Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, New Berlin and Mequon, Wisconsin (WI) treat all medical and surgical foot and ankle conditions. Licensed Podiatrists, Dr. Steven Waldman, Dr. Christopher Milkie and Dr. Lucy Meier can help bring you foot and ankle pain relief.
Our podiatrists, foot surgeons and staff of our Milwaukee area podiatry offices offer the most effective and state-of-the-art, quality podiatry care services with a smile to patients in our local community. Return to a pain-free life and get back to the things you love!
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