Will My Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

Will My Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

Ingrown toenails are minor foot complications that most people experience at some point. If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid them, you’re probably unfamiliar with the discomfort they can cause as you continue walking on your feet. You’re at higher-than-average risk of getting an ingrown toenail if you tend to wear tight footwear, have had a recent foot injury, or trim your nails too short or in a rounded shape. 

Here at Lake Erie Podiatry in Erie, Pennsylvania, experienced podiatrist Michael Ruiz, DPM, routinely treats ingrown toenails by removing part or all of the nail. Yet in many cases, you can manage and resolve an ingrown toenail on your own. Unless your toenail becomes infected or is especially prone to infection, here’s what you can do to help it heal on its own:

Never cut the nail

You should avoid trimming or cutting the nail because you risk cutting the swollen skin around it. A cut in the skin not only causes additional irritation and discomfort but leaves your toe more vulnerable to infection.

You can, however, gently attempt to lift the ingrown toenail from under your skin using padded cotton and dental floss. If you do this, you must change the cotton padding every day as the inflammation decreases. 

Soak your foot

An ingrown toenail’s inflammation responds well to warm water infused with Epsom salt. You should soak the foot several times a day, but be sure to dry off thoroughly before placing it back in a sock or shoe. 

Keep it clean and dry

Keeping your toes clean and dry won’t directly make an ingrown toenail go away, but doing so can help prevent bacteria from accumulating in your sock or shoe. This lowers your chance of developing an infection on the toenail, which is a potentially serious compilation and requires antibiotics to treat. 

Without treatment with antibiotics, an infection in an ingrown toenail can spread all the way down to the bone of the toe and potentially further into your body. Gangrene, or tissue death, can be the result of an unmanaged or mismanaged ingrown toenail infection. 

Topical antibiotic creams not only treat infections but can help prevent them too. 

Avoid tight footwear

This includes both tight shoes and tight socks, as well as high heels or any shoe with a pointed toe. Such footwear compresses your toe, which pushes the nail deeper into the surrounding skin and tissues, aggravating the ingrown toenail and causing more inflammation. 

When you can’t treat an ingrown toenail at home

Although some may have success managing an ingrown toenail independently, there are circumstances where you shouldn’t make an attempt. If you have diabetes or poor circulation in the legs because of a vascular condition, an ingrown toenail is higher stakes than it would be otherwise. 

You should visit Lake Erie Podiatry so Dr. Ruiz can examine the nail for signs of an infection. He can also resolve the ingrown toenail altogether in as little as a single visit. Schedule an appointment over the phone or online today.

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