Treatment of Ingrown Nails

An untreated ingrown toe nail if left alone will continue to cause pain and eventually lead to infection of the nearby skin. As time progresses, even the nail bed and bone can become infected. In the normal individual, the ingrown toe nail just causes pain but in any diabetic individual, a serious infection can occur. When the blood supply in diabetic is compromised, this minor infection can lead to a full blown foot infection which can jeopardize the entire limb.


In the early stages of an ingrown toe nail, the pain and infection can easily be controlled with over the counter medications. If these fail and the pain is severe, one may need to see a physician. The best treatment is to partially remove the ingrown nail. The procedure can be done in a physician's office under local anesthesia. Partial removal of the nail may be required and this immediately helps to relieve the pain.

Once the nail is removed, one must keep the area clean with warm soaks done 2-3 times a day. If there is an infection present, topical antibiotics for a few days may be necessary

For those individuals who have recurrent episodes of ingrown toe mail, the entire nail may have to be removed to prevent it from growing back in the same location. The toe nail can be removed in a clinic under local anesthesia. The minor surgery is very useful and the majority of individuals never have another episode of recurrent ingrown toe nails


There are various things one can do to prevent ingrown toe nails and these include:

Nail trimming: Ingrown toe nails are common in individuals who neglect their nails and never take care of their feet. Trimming of the nails is essential to prevent ingrown toe nails. One should avoid cutting the nails in an uneven fashion. For those who are diabetics and have compromised blood supply in their feet, trimming of the nails is a serious issue and must be done with great care. Any break in the skin or trauma can lead to life threatening infections

Toe nails should be trimmed straight and kept at the same length as the skin. Short nails may lead to growth inside the skin from outside pressure

Shoes: Wearing appropriate shoes which are comfortable and not constricting is essential. One of the major causes of ingrown toe nails in women is wearing shoes which are narrow at the toes and are very tight fitting

For those who have occupations which may lead to foot trauma, protective shoes are essential for protection.


Ingrown toe nails can be treated at home by:

Soaking your feet. When you have an ingrown toe nail, one of the treatments at home is to soak the feet in warm water for 20 minutes at least 2-3 times a day. The soaking reduces the swelling and soothes the pain.

One can apply soft cotton between the toes and this helps prevent friction and pressure on the adjacent toes

When there is a break in the skin, one can apply a topical antibiotic and leave the toes exposed to air. Wearing sandals or loose footwear can help reduce the pain.

When an ingrown nail is present, it is best to wear sandals or shoes with an open toe

Over the counter pain medications will help control the pain

Those individuals with diabetes should frequently check the nails and feet and take care to prevent any trauma to the extremities

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