Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ingrown Toenails

Who can you really talk to about an ingrown toenail? Who can you trust with the intimate details of your red, swollen appendage without being embarrassed? Probably not the friend you meet after work:

“How’s it going, dude?”
“Pretty awesome, bro, but the side of my toenail is killing me!” (*whips off shoe, plants swollen toe on bar)

Well – no. Your ailing toes and public waterholes don’t really mix. When you need to get a toe related problem off of your chest, you can feel free to unload onto the skilled podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland, Megan L. Oltmann, DPM and Craig B. Frey, DPM.

How do you know you have an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail occurs when one or both sides of the nail grow into the flesh on the side of your toe – usually your big toe, but it can happen to your smaller toes, too. If you have redness, swelling, and/or pain on the sides of your toe, you may have fallen victim to this common problem.

Where did you go wrong?

There are two main possibilities to explain why you may have developed an ingrown toenail:

  1. You cut your nails too short.
  2. You are trimming your nails in a curve to match the curve of your toe. Instead, you should cut them straight across.

Other causes include:

  1. Wearing shoes that are too tight.
  2. An injury, which can be from repetitive pressure, such as toes hitting the inside of your shoe when running or playing soccer, or blunt trauma – such as a heavy object falling on your toe and changing the growth pattern of your toenail.
  3. Genetics – meaning you have an inherited tendency for developing ingrown toenails.

What should you do about an ingrown toenail?

First of all, do not ignore it. Having an ingrown toenail means that you may be inviting bacteria in, so you want to nip any infection in the bud. Soak your feet in warm water and Epsom salt, and keep them elevated.

When should I call a podiatrist?

Contact Dr. Oltmann or Dr. Frey if:

  • pain, redness, and swelling don’t go away in a couple of days
  • your toenail persistently grows into the flesh
  • you notice a pus-like discharge

Although our podiatrists can perform surgery to correct a badly ingrown toenail, these procedures can generally be avoided if you contact us sooner than later . The number for our podiatry practice in Solon, Ohio is (440) 903-1041, and you are also welcome to request an appointment online. For your convenience, we offer early, late, and Saturday appointments.