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Don't ignore that ingrown toenail

It’s flip flop and sandal season, and that means the spotlight is on toes. Don’t let the pain and discomfort of an ingrown toenail take the sizzle out of your summer. While most ingrown toenails aren’t serious, it’s important to get prompt treatment to prevent infection and severe pain.   

Symptoms and causes

An ingrown toenail happens when the nail grows into the skin instead of over it. The big toe is especially susceptible. Initial symptoms may include swelling, tenderness and hardness. Without treatment, the area may get infected causing pain, redness and other signs of infection.

Common causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Toenail trauma, such as stubbing the toe.
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight.
  • Cutting toenails too short or at an angle.
  • Repeated stress from poor posture or repetitive physical activity such as soccer, ballet or running.
  • Poor circulation caused by diabetes, vascular issues or other conditions.
  • Genetic disposition.

Home remedies for healing

It’s important to treat an ingrown toenail as soon as possible to prevent infection or other issues. Mild cases may be treated at home.

To manage pain and other symptoms, you can:

  • Soak the infected toe in warm water with Epsom salts 3-4 times a day.
  • Place alcohol-soaked cotton under the nail edge to kill bacteria and encourage proper nail growth.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment to the infected area.
  • Wear open-toed shoes or shoes that are roomy, comfortable and low-heeled. If you do have to wear closed shoes, opt for moisture-wicking or breathable socks.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce redness or swelling.

Of course, the best remedy for an ingrown toenail is prevention. A few simple steps will help prevent them from happening and save you a lot of pain and trouble.

  • Take care to avoid trauma to the toe area.
  • Trim toenails straight across, no shorter than the tip of your toe. 
  • Wear properly fitting shoes.
  • If your job increases your risk of toenail injury, wear protective footgear.

When to seek treatment at Indigo Urgent Care

When home remedies don’t do the trick or your symptoms worsen or come back, it’s important to see a medical professional as soon as possible. An untreated ingrown toenail is not only extremely painful, it can result in serious complications such as bone infection and foot ulcers. You may also require surgery or prescription antibiotics.

Visit your nearby Indigo Urgent Care right away if:

  • Pain and swelling are severe.
  • You notice signs of infection including redness, bleeding or pus coming out of the toe, or you feel hot or shivery.
  • You have an allergic skin reaction to a home remedy.
  • You have conditions that cause poor circulation, or you have a compromised immune system.
  • You have questions or concerns about how to care for an ingrown toenail.

If you have an ingrown toenail and need treatment, visit our trusted medical providers at Indigo Health. Our clinics are open every day from 8 am to 8 pm to provide fast treatment and friendly care.


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