Many people have ingrown toenails. Many of those people carry on with day-to-day life and hardly think of their toenails at all. But sometimes, ingrown toenails become a serious issue. It's important to be aware of the signs that ingrown nails have become a problem, and to know what actions to take when they do start bugging you.
Signs That Ingrown Nails Are a Problem
First off, it is important to point out that if you suffer from diabetes, ingrown nails are always a serious matter and something to talk to your doctor about. As a diabetic, you are at an increased risk for infection and slow healing, and an ingrown nail could turn dangerous very quickly. Contact your doctor even if the nail is not painful and you don't notice any of the issues discussed below.
If you are not a diabetic, then you can ignore most asymptomatic ingrown nails. However, you should be worried if the skin around your ingrown nail turns red, becomes inflamed, or becomes very sore. These are signs of an infection. You should also be worried if you have trouble putting shoes on, walking comfortably, or trimming your nails in a way that is not painful. These are all signs that your toenail is in need of professional treatment, even though the surrounding tissues may not be affected yet.
Treatment for Serious Ingrown Nails
If you do start experiencing issues with your ingrown nails, make an appointment with a podiatrist. They will take a look at your nail and determine if it is infected or just irritated. If it is infected, they will likely prescribe a topical antibiotic for you to apply several times a day. If there is any evidence that the infection has begun to spread beyond the toe skin, they may also want you to take an oral antibiotic.
Your podiatrist will also trim the ingrown toenail in a way that keeps it from continuing to grow into your flesh. This might be a little painful at first, but it will be more comfortable in the long run. If this strategy does not work and the nail continues growing into your skin, your podiatrist may recommend having your toenail removed. This is an outpatient surgical procedure that is performed under a local anesthetic.
Ingrown toenails can be harmless, or they can prove to be quite a nuisance. Talk to a podiatrist if you have a painful, bothersome ingrown nail.