COMPLICATIONS & HOME REMEDIES FOR INGROWN TOENAILS
By Bethesda, MD & Springfield, VA Podiatrist, Dr. Paul Ross of The Podiatry Center
So far we’ve gone over what causes ingrown toenails, as well as how to properly care for your feet. We also touched on surgical treatments for ingrown toenails and what difficulties might arise if an ingrown toenail goes untreated.
- Improper trimming is the most common cause of ingrown toenails.
- Ill-fitting shoes are another common cause of ingrown toenails (as well as other problems, which we covered briefly).
- Socks that are too tight can add pressure to your toes and cause ingrown toenails.
I’d like to go into more detail about potential complications to fully illustrate the way this seemingly small problem can escalate into a larger one.
Ingrown Toenails: Complications
If you have diabetes, be particularly careful and take good care of your feet. A scrape, cut, or ingrown toenail could cause all kinds of problems if left untreated.
An ingrown toenail can get infected and later infect the bone underneath, causing a serious bone infection.
If an injury on the foot doesn’t heal right and becomes infected, it can lead to sores that don’t heal very well and sometimes not at all. These sores are called ulcers. In this case, especially for people with diabetes, surgery may be necessary to remove the ulcer and prevent the death and decay of tissue, also known as gangrene.
An infection in the nail bed that infiltrates the bone can cause serious issues, and again, these are much 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 removed. It can also cause other illnesses, and even death in some cases. An ingrown toenail can wreak havoc in the right circumstances!
Effective Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenails
There’s medicine specifically created for ingrown toenails that should help prevent infection, or if it’s already infected, help prevent it from spreading. This medicine usually comes in the form of ointment. Neosporin should work.
Another option that works well is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that can disinfect the area and penetrate the skin in a way that ointments might not.
Allow your feet to get some air! If you have an ingrown toenail and are self-conscious about it, you can lightly wrap it with gauze after putting on ointment or tea tree oil and then allow the air to reach it.
If the infection is bad, there may be a rancid smell coming from your toe. Obviously this smell will fade once the infection clears, but if you’re using tea tree oil, it will have a strong scent and could mask any infected smells until the toe is healed.
One warning: tea tree oil is toxic to cats. Never let a cat ingest tea tree oil or use it on their skin. Though it is a powerful healing oil for humans, it cannot be used on cats.
Seeking Treatment For Ingrown Toenails
If you’re diabetic or your ingrown toenail was caused by trauma or injury, seeking treatment from a Bethesda, MD Podiatrist or Springfield, VA Podiatrist is your best bet to avoid complications. Those kinds of ingrown toenails are different from the usual kind caused by the nail just growing in the wrong direction. Treatment should be sought if your toenail doesn’t begin to get better with home treatments within a week. The Podiatry Center is here to help, so give us a call at (301) 656-6055 today!
Our Bethesda, Maryland (MD) and Springfield, Virginia (VA) Podiatry offices offer the most effective and state-of-the-art, quality podiatry care services with a smile to patients in our local community, including: Woodbridge VA, Fairfax VA, Annandale VA, Arlington VA, Alexandria VA, Burke VA, Gaithersburg MD, Potomac MD, Silver Spring MD, Rockville MD and Chevy Chase MD.
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