Are Ingrown Toenails Dangerous?

Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail digs into the skin, often causing redness, swelling, and sometimes, pain. You may usually be able to fix ingrown toenails at home without complications, but there are dangers associated with not caring for them right away. Patients with diabetes are especially at risk for complications from this toenail condition due to poor blood flow in their feet. Therefore, diabetic individuals should seek a doctor’s care as soon as possible for treatment of ingrown toenails.

What Are the Risks?

Some of the symptoms of ingrown toenails may include:

  • swelling around the ingrown toenail area
  • redness
  • pain or tenderness in the skin over the affected toenail
  • infection

A variety of reasons may cause ingrown toenails. For example, genetics predisposing a person to curved toenails may be a risk factor. In addition, any recent injuries to toenails or toes could also be a cause. Cutting toenails too short or not straight across is another common cause. Wearing proper footwear can help reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails.

If they are not adequately treated, they can cause infections that may spread to the underlying bone. This severe infection can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated.

Diabetic patients are especially at risk of developing complications from any minor injury to their feet. Because of the reduced blood flow, minor injuries (like corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails) that would quickly heal in a healthy individual may cause other health complications rather quickly. One of the most common reasons for foot or leg amputation is gangrene – a condition where the tissue of the foot dies and must be removed.

How Can I Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

They can cause complications which are also easily avoided. Some of the best preventive measures are listed below.

  1. Keep toenails trimmed. Toenails should be trimmed even with the end of toes and often checked for tears, breaks, or too long nails. Be sure to cut toenails straight across – they should not curve with the shape of the toes. Toenails that are cut too short can press into the skin surrounding them, causing this condition.
  2. Wear proper footwear and socks. Socks and shoes should be loose enough to allow toes to move freely.
  3. Wear shoes with a wide toe box.  The extra room at the forefoot allows toes to spread out naturally.

How Can I Treat Ingrown Toenails at Home?

If you believe you have this toenail condition and are noticing redness, swelling, or tenderness in the skin, some home remedies may be helpful.

  • Soaking your feet for 15-20 minutes several times a day in warm water may help. Keep your feet dry at all other times.
  • Use over-the-counter medicines for any pain.
  • Use a topical antibiotic or steroid cream to prevent infection. Ask your doctor if you are not sure what is best for your condition.
  • Push the skin away from your toenail with a cotton ball soaked in olive or avocado oil.

If you have ingrown toenails causing you concern, Best Foot Doctor would be happy to schedule an appointment with you to discuss your situation. Our friendly staff is here to help you find a solution to your concerns and work with you to help solve your discomfort from ingrown toenails and prevent further complications.

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