Ingrown toenails can be very painful, frustrating, and can make wearing shoes and walking comfortably difficult. When we see patients with ingrown toenails, it's not uncommon for them to have tried some home remedies to help their nails first before their appointment. While some provide temporary relief, others have found their pain became unbearable, and they have made the problem worse. So to help prevent you from falling into the latter category, here are five things that we recommend NOT doing if you've got a painful ingrown nail.
1. Don't Try 'Home Surgery'
When we talk about home surgery, we mean cutting deep down into the nail, beyond what you can see. For most people they know the nail has grown in, but can't see or pinpoint exactly where the nail has grown in. Usually, it's because the swelling of the skin surrounding the nail (caused by the nail piercing the skin) hides it, or the ingrown portion of nail is too far down the base of the nail to be able to see.
As podiatrists, we get around this by using specialised podiatry instruments that make it easy for us, and feeling the nail beneath the swollen tissue, which comes from years of experience and knowing what to look and feel for. Trying to do this yourself can not only be extremely painful, but can further irritate the area or worsen the tender wounded area that the nail has pierced. You also won't know if, after trimming the nail, you've left parts behind - and in some cases it can be harder for us to then get these nail spicules, than if we effectively removed the original edge of the nail ourselves.
2. Don't Trim a 'V' In The Nail
It used to be thought that cutting a V in the centre of the nail could discourage an ingrown toenail from growing. While we believe this has been disproven by considering the nail anatomy and the physiological process by which a nail grows and lengthens, nonetheless, doing it now that you already have an ingrown toenail won't help. Even if it was used for future ingrown nail prevention, it's not going to stop or treat an ingrown nail once it has developed. More so, it then leaves your nail vulnerable to 'catching' on your socks and shoes and being pulled, which can then irritate the area of the nail that has ingrown.
3. Don't Wear Shoes That Cause You Pain
Whether they're tight shoes or roomier shoes - if a certain shoe is causing your ingrown toenail to feel more painful, don't wear it. If it's causing pain, it means it's applying more pressure to the toe, which can drive the ingrown nail deeper into the skin and cause you more pain in the long run, even after you remove the shoes.
4. Don't Let The Toe Get Too Moist
Sounds like an odd one, but we've seen plenty of people who have taken the ';business as usual' approach to their toe while waiting for their appointment, and have not taken extra care when it comes to drying the toe well after a shower, changing socks when they get sweaty, or staying all day in hot shoes with socks that don't help draw moisture away from the feet.
When the skin has prolonged contact with moisture, it can soften and macerate, making the skin vulnerable to further damage. A swollen ingrown toenail and the crevice it creates down the side of the nail can create the perfect moisture ';trap'. This can not only quickly lead to further damage at the ingrown toenail site, but can also create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus to grow, and wreak further havoc. Dry the toe well after it gets wet, air it regularly, and wear socks that wick moisture away from the feet if you need to spend long periods in hot, enclosed shoes, like for work. And most importantly - book that podiatry appointment quickly!
5. Don't Rely On Meds
It's natural to want to take painkillers to help ease the pain, or to get a script for antibiotics if your ingrown toenail has become infected - and there's nothing wrong with either. There's just one caveat: remember that neither of these are solutions or treatments for ingrown toenails. Instead, painkillers temporarily mask pain (until they wear off and it comes back), and antibiotics help kill the bacteria causing the infection - but neither remove the ingrown nail from the skin it has pierced - which is the cause of your pain.
Moreover, if you continue to take medications hoping that it'll fix the problem entirely, the nail may worsen over this time as it continues to grow further into the skin.
Get Your Nails Treated By The Professionals
When it comes to treating ingrown toenails, we're the go-to professionals, trained and qualified to effectively treat ingrown toenails in a number of ways, including a procedure that gets rid of the ingrown toenail for good.
Book your appointment by giving our friendly team a call on (07) 4162 7633.