INGROWN TOENAILS, BEWARE!
Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists
So far we’ve covered what causes ingrown toenails, as well as how to properly take care of your toenails to avoid them in the first place. We also briefly touched on surgical procedures for ingrown toenails and what complications could arise if an ingrown toenail goes untreated.
• Improper trimming is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. In this article, we covered how to properly trim your toenails and prevent ingrown toenails from occurring in the first place.
• Ill-fitting shoes are another common cause of ingrown toenails (as well as other problems, which we discussed briefly).
• Socks that are too tight can also add pressure to your toes and cause ingrown toenails to occur.
I’d like to go into more detail about possible complications and consequences to fully illustrate the way this seemingly small problem can escalate into a larger one.
Problems Caused by Ingrown Toenails
If you have diabetes, be especially careful and take good care of your feet. A small scrape, cut, or ingrown toenail could lead to all kinds of issues if left untreated.
An ingrown toenail can become infected and later infect the underlying bone, resulting in a serious bone infection.
If an injury on the foot doesn’t heal properly and becomes infected, it can lead to ulcers, which are sores that are extremely difficult to heal. In this case, especially for people with diabetes, surgery may be performed to remove the ulcer to prevent the death and decay of tissue, also known as gangrene.
An infection in the nail bed that travels down to the bone can cause some serious issues, and again, these are far more likely in people with diabetes. If an infection goes unnoticed or untreated, a worst case scenario would mean amputating the entire toe.
If gangrene develops, there’s a chance the entire foot will need to be amputated. It can also cause other illness and sometimes even death. An ingrown toenail can wreak havoc under the right conditions!
Most Effective Home Treatments
There’s medicine specifically created for ingrown toenails that should help prevent an infection, or if it’s already infected, help prevent it from spreading. This medicine usually comes in the form of ointment. Even Neosporin should work.
Another option that works well is tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and can help disinfect the area as well as penetrate the skin in a way that ointments may not.
Though it can be embarrassing, one important aspect of helping your feet is to let them breathe. Allow them to get some air! If you do have an infected ingrown toenail and are self-conscious about it but still want to make sure you let air get to it, you can lightly wrap or cover it with gauze after putting on ointment or tea tree oil and then just allow the air to reach it.
If the infection is bad enough, there may be a rancid smell accompanying it as well. If that’s the case, tea tree oil could help as well because it has a potent scent while also having healing properties.
If you’re diabetic or your ingrown toenail was caused by trauma or an injury, seeking treatment from a Milwaukee WI podiatrist is your best option to avoid infection and gangrene. Those kinds of ingrown toenails are very different from your run of the mill versions that usually tend to self-correct.
Treatment should be sought if the infection gets worse or just doesn’t get better with home treatments.
To speak to a podiatrist, ask questions, or schedule an evaluation, please give us a call. At Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists, we’re here to help! 414.257.0676