When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require Medical Treatment?

Ingrown toenails sometimes require a podiatrist in order to heal.

Unless you’re a ballet dancer or get regular pedicures, your toenails are probably something you don’t think about a lot. A healthy toenail lies flat across the nail bed on your toe, but when your toenail grows into the flesh at the edge of your nail bed rather than straight out, the pain gets your attention.

You may have gotten an ingrown toenail because of a toe injury. Or you may have developed habits that increase your risk, such as cutting your toenails on a curve, rather than straight across, or wearing tight or pointed shoes. If you get ingrown toenails a lot, you may have inherited curved nails or fleshy nail beds that require extra care.

Your big toes are most susceptible to ingrown nails, but any toe can develop one. You can try treating your ingrown nail with over-the-counter numbing solutions or by soaking your feet in warm water and then gently lifting the nail out of your flesh. However, some ingrown toenails require medical attention.

When should you run — or hop — to the podiatrist for ingrown toenail treatment? Dr. John Scheffel of Scheffel Foot Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, advises seeking care in the following situations:

Red, hot, or oozing toe

Heat, redness, and pus are all signs that your toe may be infected, requiring immediate medical attention. Redness that spreads down your toe or across your foot is another sign of infection. Untreated nail infections can spread to other parts of your body, causing severe complications, including a bone infection, gangrene, and sepsis.

Extremely painful toe

If your ingrown toenail affects your gait or impairs your everyday routine, don’t try to live with the pain. Getting proper treatment for an ingrown toenail gives you relief so you can return to your normal activities as soon as possible.

Your toe doesn’t respond to self-treatment

If OTC remedies and hot-water soaks haven’t worked for you, it’s time to see the podiatrist. Expert ingrown toenail treatment is simple and fast.

You have diabetes or peripheral artery disease (PAD)

If you have diabetes or PAD, you should inspect your feet and toes daily. Both conditions affect sensation in your feet and toes, so you may not notice an injury or feel the pain of an ingrown nail. At the first sign of an ingrown toenail, seek treatment to reduce your risk of serious infection.

You get ingrown toenails frequently

If you have chronic ingrown toenails, Dr. Scheffel may recommend surgery to correct the problem. He can remove the part of your nail bed that’s blocking your toenail so it can grow in healthy and straight.

A few minutes, and you’re back on your feet

Treatment for a common ingrown toenail is simple and straightforward. Dr. Scheffel numbs your toe and removes the portion of the nail that’s causing the problem.  

To get relief from your ingrown toenail and avoid the possibility of infection, call Scheffel Foot Center today or use the online form to request an appointment.

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