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Will My Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

 Will My Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

An ingrown toenail is a common condition that sometimes causes discomfort and pain, particularly when walking. It occurs when the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh of the toe, leading to irritation, redness, swelling, and sometimes infection. 

Here, the team at Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, explains how to determine whether an ingrown toenail can heal on its own or if you require a visit to the office for podiatry care.

What causes ingrown toenails?

Whether an ingrown toenail will heal by itself depends on its causes and severity. Common causes include trimming toenails too short or not straight across, wearing shoes that crowd the toenails, injury, and genetic predisposition. 

Ingrown toenails are often just minor irritations, but they can become severe and lead to infections and more significant complications, particularly if you have circulatory issues or diabetes. 

Self-care measures for mild ingrown toenails

Self-care measures might be sufficient in mild ingrown toenails with minimal redness and discomfort. Submerging the foot in warm water three to four times daily can reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Keeping the foot dry the rest of the time and wearing comfortable shoes with adequate room for the toes can also help. 

If your ingrown toenail causes discomfort, use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve the pain. Additionally, gently lifting the nail edge with a piece of dental floss and placing a small piece of cotton under it can help guide the nail to grow above the edge of the skin. 

When an ingrown toenail needs professional treatment

If home treatments don’t improve the condition within a few days, or if the pain and swelling increase, it's crucial to seek medical attention. Signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, pain, and pus, require prompt medical intervention.

People with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or other circulatory disorders should seek medical advice even for mild cases of ingrown toenails. These conditions can lead to poor blood flow to the feet, making it harder for infections to heal and increasing the risk of complications.

Ingrown toenail treatment

Sometimes, we need to remove a part of the nail to facilitate healing. We do this procedure in the office with local anesthesia. For recurrent ingrown toenails, a more permanent solution might involve removing a portion of the nail's growth center, a procedure known as a matrixectomy.

How to prevent an ingrown toenail

Preventing ingrown toenails is often the best approach. Proper nail care is essential – trim toenails straight across and not too short, and ensure that shoes and socks aren’t too tight. Keeping feet clean and dry can also help prevent infection.

Schedule an appointment

While mild ingrown toenails may heal independently, more severe cases of ingrown toenails in people with diabetes or circulatory disorders should receive medical attention. If your ingrown toenail needs professional care, call our Henderson or Las Vegas, Nevada office to schedule an appointment.


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