People who have faced with ingrown nail problem are aware of the fact that this is a very unpleasant experience. The pain caused by the ingrown nail may be almost unbearable.
Ingrown nail is the situation where the nail plate enters the surrounding tissue. An improper cutting of the nail, narrow and tight socks and shoes, as well as an irregular shape of the nail plate, thickened nail plate caused by a fungal infection or a nail injury may lead to this condition.
As the ingrown nail progresses, the skin surrounding the nail becomes even more sensitive to touch and more painful. The disorder is manifested by redness, swelling and pain, and if ignored, it can easily turn into a painful, bleeding lump. The redness and pus are the typical symptoms of bacterial infection. If left untreated, the infection may spread to the bone.
What are the most common causes?
There are several important causes of ingrown toenails:
Unsuitable footwear. Tight and pointed shoes, made of a hard material, can be the cause of irregular nail growth because it pushes the nail into the surrounding skin. While trying on shoes, make sure that your fingers is not touching the top of the shoes. You should avoid shoes with too tight top and high heels over 3-4 centimeters or 2 inches.
The improper cutting of the nails is one of the main causes. Making the outer edges of the nail round is a big mistake. Nail should be trimmed straight, and the rounding should be done with a nail file only, but not too deeply. Nails should never be cut too short, just enough to extend beyond the finger tip. It is not recommended that you cut the skin around the nails and clean the skin under the nails, in order to avoid the nail lifting.
The hereditary factor can also be responsible for this phenomenon. Weak and soft nails often grow irregularly, which may be a hereditary trait. People whose family members have faced with this kind of problem should preventively contact an orthopedist or a dermatologist in order to prevent the problem in time.
How to treat an ingrown nail?
In less severe cases the treatment should be consisted of lukewarm water and sea salt. Fill a washbowl with lukewarm water and add 3-4 tablespoons of sea salt. Soak your feet twice a day for 20 minutes. This will soften the skin around the nail. After you’re done, pat your feet dry carefully with a clean towel, disinfect the painful area and apply some antibiotic ointment to the part beneath the nail, to prevent any possible infection. This process should be repeated until the healing is complete.
In severe cases surgery is unavoidable. The classic procedure is performed under local anesthesia. The surgeon removes the ingrown part of the nail and the part of the matrix, so the nail cannot grow there anymore. It is possible to have pains for a few days after the procedure. It is very important that the surgeon is experienced and very precise in order to perform the surgery successfully. If the nail matrix is removed improperly, it is possible that the problem reappears.
Discover some useful methods that will help you solve the problem without visiting a doctor:
- Soak your feet in hot water – the effect is even better if the water is hotter. Keep the feet in hot water for 15 minutes to half an hour, at least twice a day. Purpose of the regular bath is to soften the nails, but also prevent any possible infections in the foot area. It is recommended to use antibacterial soaps for feet washing.
- Prepare all the necessary nail accessories before the bath.
- Pat dry your feet well with a clean towel after the bath and cut the toenails straight. Nails cut in a round way increase the risk of ingrown nail occurrence.
- Try to separate the ingrown nail from the flash using a sterile needle and carefully place the cotton pad in between. Be patient and do not push the pad too hard. Place the cotton pad below ingrown nail to prevent irritation and infection of the finger and wrap the whole finger with cheesecloth. Remember to cut the toenails straight. Round cut nails increase the risk of the ingrowing nail.Remember that the affected finger will be in contact with other fingers inside the socks and shoes during the day, and there will be an inevitable sweating.
- You can identify the finger infection by the change in its color – from the strong red to dark blue. If you notice a finger infection or pus, it is best to consult your doctor who will prescribe the appropriate medication.
- Let your feet breathe. Do not wear socks and shoes when you are at home, it is not necessary.
- Check the nail condition regularly and replace the cotton pad beneath the nail at least once a day. If you keep the nail hygiene in this way, the ingrown nail problem should be resolved in a few weeks, and a new, healthy one will start growing.
Inflammation of the ingrown nail can be prevented in a following way: put a slice of lemon on the damaged nail, wrap it with gauze and leave it overnight. The lemon acid will help fight any infection.