When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require Medical Treatment?

Even though ingrown toenails are very common, particularly among teens, this doesn’t mean they should be ignored. In fact, it’s often advisable to see a podiatrist, because an ingrown toenail can easily become infected.

An ingrown toenail develops when an edge of your toenail grows beyond the boundaries of the nail bed and into the skin beside your nail. Ingrown toenails are most common in the big toes.

In this blog, the compassionate providers at Premier Foot & Ankle explain how you can treat ingrown toenails at home, when you should see a doctor, and how you can prevent getting them in the future.

Choosing between at-home treatments and going to a doctor

Common symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain and sensitivity near the toenail, swelling and redness, and warmth. Choosing whether to treat an ingrown toenail at home or at a doctor’s office usually depends on the severity.

Home treatments

If you treat an ingrown toenail early, you may be able to solve the problem at home. Home treatments can include the following:

If you try to treat your condition at home, you should monitor your condition closely.

When to see a doctor

The dividing line between relying on home care and seeking medical help for an ingrown toenail is if you see signs of infection. If the pain worsens considerably, or if you see pus or blood, increased redness, nail discoloration, or notice a bad odor, you need to seek professional care promptly. 

Unfortunately, an ingrown toenail can get worse very quickly, so it’s important to monitor it carefully. If you have circulation issues or live with diabetes, you should see a doctor right away and not rely on home treatments.

Doctors have many options when treating ingrown toenails

At Premier Foot & Ankle, we will recommend a treatment based on your condition. We may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to clear up your infection. We also might recommend using a toenail splint, which is a small device that allows your nail to grow above your sensitive skin. 

Depending on your situation, we may recommend a surgical solution. Your doctor may remove part of your toenail. Or, if needed, your doctor may remove the entire nail so it can grow back in correctly. For people who have a pattern of getting ingrown toenails, removing the entire nail is sometimes the best option.

After treating your ingrown toenail, your doctor will recommend ways to help you avoid getting another one. Suggestions may include wearing shoes that are roomy and fit well, cutting your toenails straight across rather than rounding them, and not cutting your nails too short. They shouldn’t be shorter than the tips of your toes.

If you have an ingrown toenail and want treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Premier Foot & Ankle today.

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