Ingrown toenails can be a source of intense pain. If left untreated, they can result in infections to the skin or even the bones of your feet. If you have abnormal pain in your toe near your toenail, you may have an ingrown toenail. Here are some of the symptoms of ingrown toenails, along with possible causes, prevention tips, and treatment options.

Ingrown Toenail Symptoms

Ingrown toenails occur when the sides of the toenails break through the skin surrounding the nail beds and then continue to grow into the skin. If left untreated, they often result in infections. If you have an ingrown toenail, your first sign may be an increased soreness in the skin surrounding your nail. You may or may not be able to see the broken skin, but if you try to gently pull the sides of your nail away from your skin, you likely will not be able to without pain and difficulty. If it has already become infected, you may notice swelling, oozing, or pus drainage.

Causes and Prevention

Some people are more prone to developing ingrown toenails because they naturally have more rounded toenails. If you have a close family member who frequently suffers with this problem, then it is very likely that the pain in your toes is from an ingrown toenail.

Some other things that will increase your likelihood of getting ingrown toenails include wearing the wrong kinds of shoes, clipping your toenails wrong, sports injuries, and untreated foot fungus.

            Shoes: Shoes that put undue pressure on your toes can lead to ingrown toenails. Your shoes should be tight enough that your foot does not slide around, but not so tight that pressure is put on your toes. If you are unsure if your shoes offer you the right kind of protection and support, you can ask your podiatrist. He or she can recommend inserts or alterations to protect your feet.

            Clipping toenails: When you clip your toenails, do not clip them too short, below the skin line. Make sure to clip them straight across without rounding out the edges. This will help prevent the edges of your toenails from growing into your skin.

            Sports: It is imperative that you wear the correct footwear for your sport of choice. Repetitive trauma to your toes can cause injuries that will lead to ingrown toenails.

            Toenail fungus: If your toenails are discolored, abnormally thick, or itchy and painful, see your podiatrist right away. You could be suffering from a toenail fungus. An untreated toenail fungus could lead to ingrown toenails and other painful problems.

Treatment Options

If you have ingrown toenails, you may be able to alleviate some of your pain by elevating your feet or soaking your feet in warm water and Epsom salt. After soaking for 15–20 minutes, gently pull back on the skin around the nail. Try to insert a cotton swab in between the skin and your toenail and leave it there for a few minutes. This will help to separate your toenail from your skin and give you a chance to heal. You can use an antibacterial ointment if you are afraid of getting an infection.

If your problem persists or if you have a painful or spreading infection, see your podiatrist, one like West Central Podiatry Consultants, for additional care.

If you suspect that an ingrown toenail is the cause of your toe pain, use these treatments to find relief. Then take precautionary steps to protect yourself from developing more ingrown toenails in the future.