My toe is red, swollen, and painful – what’s wrong?

Redness, swelling, and pain are common symptoms associated with an ingrown toenail. You may notice first that your toenail isn’t growing correctly. As the toenail becomes ingrown, the area where it presses into the skin around the nail can become painful and even infected.

What are ingrown toe nails?

An ingrown toenail is a common occurrence where the edge of the toenail grows into the toe. The result is pain, swelling redness and sometimes even infection can occur. This usually happens on your big toe, but can happen on any of your toes. It can happen on one or both sides of the toe nail.

What causes ingrown toe nails?

Ingrown toe nails can be caused by many different reasons.

  • Shoes: Often we wear shoes that are too narrow, too short or just don’t fit properly. This can cause crowding and lead the nail to grow into the fleshy area of the toe.
  • Cutting the nail: If the nails are not cut straight across, they can grow into the sides of the toe. If the nails are cut too short, the skin may grow over the nail so when the nail grows out, it grows into the skin piercing it and causes pain and swelling.
  • Toe Nail Injury: Damage to the nail can cause it to grow into the skin.
  • Posture: The way a person walks or stands can determine if they will develop ingrown toe nails.
  • Poor Foot Hygiene: If a person has poor foot hygiene and/or sweats a lot the warmth and moisture can increase the risk of ingrown toenails developing.

Those of you who have experienced an ingrown toenail before know how painful they can be. If the pain in your toe wasn’t enough of a discomfort, ingrown nails have a tendency to become infected. This is when seeking help from a podiatrist is absolutely essential. This is especially important for those with diabetes or poor circulation. Seeing a foot specialist may be the best decision you can make if you want to keep a simple problem from turning into a serious issue.

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

The best treatment for ingrown nails is prevention. Sometimes, ingrown toenails can be hereditary and there isn’t always a 100% successful method of prevention. However, many of the ingrown toenails that occur are self-induced. Follow these tips to help prevent getting ingrown toenails:

1) Avoid shoes and socks that squeeze your toes together

2) Trim your nails straight across at the top

3) Keep the length of your toenails at the tips of your toes

By following these tips for prevention, you will significantly lessen your chances of getting ingrown toenails. Prevention is the key to saving yourself from a great deal of pain and discomfort.

If not treated properly, ingrown toenails can recur. To ensure that your feet are given the best care, make an appointment with Lawrence Kales DPM. He will be able to expertly evaluate your toe, treating any existing infection and fixing the ingrown nail.

What can the doctor do for me?

The doctor will examine your foot. He will check the toe to see if it is ingrowing. He will decide whether to treat with antibiotics first or perform a procedure called a matrixectomy, where the nail or part of the nail is removed. The best thing you can to for yourself is to make an appointment to see how he can help you! Don’t allow yourself to be in unnecessary pain…call or click here to schedule an appointment today!

To reduce pain while waiting for your appointment:

1) Wear shoes that are longer and wider at the toes

2) Soak your feet in water to reduce the inflammation

3) Leave it alone! Never try to extract the ingrown nail on your own

You don’t have to suffer with unnecessary pain. Call Podiatrists Lawrence Kales’ Hudson office at (727) 868-2128 or his Spring Hill office at (352) 683-5799 or schedule an appointment online. Lawrence Kales DPM and his staff can alleviate your discomfort and help you start living pain-free!