If you are not careful about how you cut your toenails, you run the risk of creating an ingrown toenail, which occurs when the toenail starts to grow into the skin around the nail. This can be quite painful especially if you wear tight-fitting shoes. Besides the discomfort, you also run the risk of infection, which can create swelling, more pain, and may even make you sick. The treatment for an ingrown toenail will depend on how severe your condition is.
Digging out the Nail
If just a small corner of the nail is ingrown, you may be able to dig the nail out with the pick on a set of nail clippers. To prevent the nail from simply settling back into the same depression in your skin, you should consider rolling up a piece of cotton ball into a thread and then placing this under the corner of the nail to provide a little lift. To prevent infection, you can apply a triple-antibiotic ointment. Replace the cotton everyday for a few days until the nail will naturally stay on top of the skin.
Cutting out the Nail
For a more severely ingrown toenail, your doctor may cut out the ingrown portion of the nail. If you have a nail that is oozing puss and is extremely painful, you should seek this treatment. A doctor should first numb the toe in question then use surgical instruments to remove the problematic section of your nail. You won't have to worry about training your nail with cotton thread for this procedure. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection causing the puss.
Removing the Nail
If you have repeated problems with the same nail, a doctor may decide to remove the nail all the way down to the root. Killing the root may require chemicals or lasers, but the benefit of this procedure is that you don't have to worry about the nail growing back and creating the same problem over and over. Depending on whether you have an infection and how serious the infection is, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics as a follow-up to this procedure.
If you catch an ingrown toenail quickly enough, you should be able to deal the problem on your own by digging the nail out and carefully trimming your nails to prevent future problems. On the other hand, if you have a nail that exceeds your abilities for treatment, you should seek medical treatment. For more information, contact a professional like Lincoln Park Podiatry.