by Dr. Brant McCartan
A few of our other blog posts on this site have talked about infection and why it can be such a concern. However, we have yet to talk about one of the most common infections that come into a podiatrists office… the infected ingrown toenail. So lets take a minute today to go over some information, signs, and symptoms of this affliction and when you should consider making an appointment.
An ingrown toenail is similar to other wounds. Just like other open wounds, untreated ingrown toenails can easily become infected. There are a variety of reasons ingrown toenails so easily become infected, but if you just take a second and think about your feet, it is easy to comprehend why. For starters, many people walk barefoot. They go barefoot in their home, they go barefoot outside, they even go barefoot in the gym locker-room and showers. All of these places (really anywhere) can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Secondly feet like to hang out in damp, dark places, like the inside of shoes. These types of locations are optimal growing conditions for the bacteria that you may have picked up on your last trip to the gym. At any rate, cleaning your feet routinely and being especially careful if you have any open wounds can minimize your risk for infection.
If you already have an ingrown toenail, of course it is time to be careful. Also, you need to start thinking about these signs of infection and ask yourself these questions. Is the toenail especially painful? Does wearing shoes or socks hurt the tip of the affected toe? Or maybe you feel every little step you take on that toe. Is there any drainage coming from the toe? Is the skin around your nail puffy, red or swollen? Does the toe (or your feet) smell more than normal, or differently then normal? Remember also to check your children’s (and even teenager’s) feet – they are prone to ingrown toenails. If you answered yes to any of these questions please give us a call and schedule an appointment today. A short course of antibiotics and some specialized nail trimming may be all you need to get you back on your happy feet in no time.