I've lost count how many times I accidentally stubbed my toe against something that’s fairly easy to spot, especially during running. Perhaps it’s my innate klutz, but sometimes I think I just have the worst luck. I resolved myself into getting used to the occasional bumps, and I was doing pretty well, until one time when I noticed that the latest stub caused a painful swelling in my big toe.
It was the first time I felt a lingering discomfort from my little accidents. It lasted a couple of days until I decided to have a proper look at it. It turned out it was not altogether caused by my accident. It was an ingrown nail, pressing inwardly into the skin of the corner of my toe. The swelling and discomfort developed to sharp, stabbing pain, and deepening redness.
The ingrowth on my toenail was, thankfully, not infected. All I had to do was soak my foot in lukewarm water, one part white vinegar to four parts water, and massage the side of my big toe. It eased the swelling after 3-4 times of soaking, and for the pain, oral pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen worked like magic.
In the case that an ingrown toenail is infected though, professional medical help must be sought. An infected toenail usually presents with drainage and pus, and must be addressed immediately to avoid further complications.
Your physician may prescribe oral antibiotics if infection is present but usually is not needed if the infection is removed. A minor procedure is usually employed to remove the ingrowing nail border. With the help of local anesthetic, the doctor will remove a part of the nail’s side border. Sometimes, it is necessary to remove the entire nail but thank god not too often.
Ingrown toenails are caused by various factors, the most common being ill-fitting footwear and improper nail grooming. It is advised to trim your toenails straight and not curved, to avoid the skin from folding into the nail. Pressure from tight shoes also pushes the nails into the skin that may cause the nails to break into the surrounding tissues.
Success rates for ingrown toenail treatment are very high. It is important to properly diagnose the condition, and immediately address the risk factors involved to avoid complications.