While most ingrown toenails are not serious, recognizing the signs early on can make a huge difference in your comfort. If an ingrown toenail becomes infected, it can cause pain and interfere with your ability to walk.
Let's look at how ingrown nails occur, the common symptoms, and how to know when it's time to go to a doctor.
How do you get an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of your toenail starts to grow into the skin around it. While some people have genetic predispositions or conditions that can cause ingrown toenails, such as diabetes, ingrown toenails are frequently the result of trauma to the toe.
Improperly cutting a toenail is one of the most common causes of an ingrown toenail. When a toenail is cut too short, too long or at an angle rather than straight across, it can start to grow into the surrounding skin.
You can also get an ingrown toenail from a toenail injury, wearing footwear that puts pressure on your toes, not keeping your feet clean and dry, and participating in certain sports such as dance or soccer.
What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?
You likely won't notice that you have an ingrown toenail until it becomes infected. One of the first indications is pain when putting pressure on your toe. The skin next to the nail will likely be swollen, tender or hard. The area may also be red and inflamed. The clearest sign of an infection in your toenail is pus draining from your toe.
When should you go to an urgent care?
There are options for at-home treatments of infected ingrown toenails, including soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salt and using antibiotic ointment. However, if you notice your toe is red, swollen and has pus coming out of it, you should seek medical attention at your local urgent care as soon as possible. You should also visit an urgent care if your infection symptoms don't go away, worsen or keep coming back.
If you have concerns about an ingrown toenail or suspect an infection, visit our trusted staff at your local Indigo Health today.