Pinches and pokes hurt, even on your toes. The harder the object that’s doing the pinching, the more painful the effect can be. Sometimes the thing that pinches your toes isn’t an outside force; your toenails can actually cause your feet painful problems. An ingrown toenail is a simple, but highly uncomfortable, foot condition.

Why Nails Grow Wrong

An ingrown toenail is a normal nail that grows into the soft skin next to it. One edge or corner curls or curves around, pressing painfully into the soft tissue. You develop red and irritated skin, often with some swelling. Eventually the keratin may break through the skin. This can expose your tissue to infections, which may be accompanied by draining fluids and an unpleasant odor. Any of your toes can develop this nail problem, but the big toe is the most common victim.

Multiple underlying issues may cause a nail to grow into the skin. The natural shape of your nail may predispose it to growing sideways or digging into your toe. Wearing tight footwear that squeezes your toes is a common culprit. You can also trim your nails incorrectly and create an edge that’s more likely to curl. Traumatic injuries to your toes and uncomfortable nail conditions, like fungal infections, can alter the shape of your nail tissue as well, potentially creating problems.

Quick and Simple Pain Relief

Ingrown toenails do not usually improve on their own, and often worsen if you ignore them. The only way to relieve the pain is to stop the hard nail tissue from pinching or piercing the skin. Dr. Su, and Dr. Sabic will examine your affected toe to determine how serious the problem has become. Then our staff will help you begin a treatment plan to relieve the discomfort.

Mildly ingrown nails can be treated conservatively. Some home remedies may help relieve the discomfort. Warm foot soaks, especially with Epsom salts, help soothe the irritation. You’ll need to wear roomy shoes that don’t squeeze your toes. Correcting the curve so the nail grows straight involves using a variety of techniques to keep the curled edge above the skin. We lift the nail and then use sterile material as a splint to hold it in place. This helps the nail continue growing above the skin instead of into it.

Rare Cases May Need Surgery

The worse the condition is, the more likely you’ll need to have the ingrown tissue cut away in a minor procedure to relieve the discomfort. We will carefully numb your toe beforehand, so you won’t feel any pain. Then we’ll excise the edge that is causing the problem and treat the tissue underneath for infections. This can be a partial or complete nail removal. If you struggle with repeated ingrown nails, we may recommend the hard nail tissue be permanently removed.

Your feet don’t have to suffer with toenail problems. There are steps you can take to relieve ingrown nail discomfort. Rather than wait until the pain is unbearable, let Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona know when you first notice the issue. We can set up an appointment to take care of the problem.