It’s widespread, painful, and this ailment can affect anyone at any age: ingrown toenails. It is the penetration of the lateral edge of the toenail that curves into the nail bed. The cause in 90 percent of cases is due to the wrong cut of the nail, the remaining 10 percent may be due to a trauma on the nail matrix or a congenital malformation with a nail that tends to grow very curved.
It usually affects the big toe and can also become infected, and when it comes to the initial foot pain Portland OR podiatrists say it’s often ignored, and self-diagnosed as a simple bruise. Once the nail penetrates the skin and begins to grow it can continue growing down the toe, in many cases causing an infection. There are risk factors once the nail pierces the skin.
The Risk Factors Of Ingrown Toenails
Very often the cause of ingrown toenails is improperly cut nails, or too tight shoes that compress the toes, however, fungal infections, like Onychomycosis can also trigger this ailment.
Onychomycosis is a frequent infection of the nails, especially the feet, caused mostly by a fungi. It is a very common and contagious disease and can be triggered by excessive moisture, frequent use of flip flops, and walking barefoot in public areas, like swimming pools, and public showers.
It’s also possible that the fungus is present on the skin and an ingrown toenail provides easy entry. Doctors say the infection from a fungus usually begins at the edge of the nail and progresses until it alters the toenail. The toenail can experience color variations, thickening, or a deformity.
More Than A Simple Aesthetic Problem
It is estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the population suffer from these types of fungal infections. It’s very visible and can affect interpersonal relationships. It can also alter the nails and trigger ingrown toenails.
Topical treatments are common, even over-the-counter sprays and ointments. However, this infection can persist indefinitely, so stronger oral medications are recommended. These medicines considerably reduces the duration of treatment and prevents the nail from becoming infected again.
Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenails
In many cases, when ingrown nails are in the first stage you can take care of it at home with natural remedies. And of course, it can can be prevented. But if the nail has already penetrated the toe, you need to see a doctor for treatment because an infection could already be present.
There are a few simple remedies that can be completed at home;
- Soak feet in Epsom salt for about 15 minutes to soften the nails. Tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar can be used in place of Epsom salt because both have antiseptic properties.
- Keep feet as clean and dry as possible.
- Change your socks regularly to prevent bacterial growth.
- Wear comfortable shoes that leave enough space for your toes.
- Cut the toenails, but not too short, to keep them from curving into the edge of nail bed.
Lastly, if you’re in pain, or there is any visible swelling in the toe, your doctor may prefer that you do not try to treat it yourself, for safety reasons. Have a phone consultation to explain the problem before trying to remedy yourself.