What's the best home care for ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails are one the most common problems that we see and treat in the office.  Typically, by the time patients get to the point that they see us, the ingrown nail is severe enough that a procedure is necessary to remove either the border of the nail or the entire nail.

Appropriate home care for ingrown toenails can help prevent a lot of problems.  We always recommend trimming your nails straight across, and we also recommend making sure you wear wide enough shoes.  Having a wide enough toe box helps not push the edges of the skin into the toenail.

If you think you are starting to get an ingrown toenail, but it's not too bad yet, we recommend trying to soak your toe in warm water and epson salt for at least 5-10 minutes twice daily.  After you have soaked the toe, you should then massage the skin away from the nail edge to see if it helps decrease the pain.

If that doesn't work, most of the time the nail border will need to be removed.  Almost every patient tells me after the procedure that it wasn't nearly as bad as what they expected.  We do have to numb the toe, so doing the procedure does involved getting a shot in the toe. We do not have to give you any shots right by the painful toenail though, so it is typically a lot less painful than what people expect.  Once the toe is numb, you can still feel pressure sometimes, but you don't feel any sharp pain with the procedure.

When we remove either a toenail edge or border, we can also put a chemical called phenol at the nail site which keeps the nail from regrowing about 95% of the time.  We can also permanently remove the entire toenail in cases where the nail is thick and painful, and nothing else has worked to help with the pain.  Cosmetically, if we remove the edge of the nail, it actually ends up looking pretty normal once the nail bed heals, and it really looks mostly like the nail did before the procdure except it is slightly more narrow.

If you have pain from an ingrown toenail or any other foot and ankle problem, our team at Foot and Ankle Institute of Colorado is here to help you.   Our Colorado Springs podiatrists, Dr. Hinderland and Dr. Cameron, work with you to develop a treatment plan that fits your goals.  Call us at 719-488-4664 if there is anything you need!

Author
Dr. Matthew Hinderland Board Certified Podiatrist and Foot and Ankle Surgeon

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