Diabetic Foot HealthYou might have a pesky toenail bothering you every now and then when you put your shoes on or go for a run, but have chosen to ignore it. While ingrown toenails may seem like minor inconveniences, they can often turn into something worse. If left unchecked, ingrown toenails can lead to infections and other troubling complications. If you have diabetes, you may already be prone to foot problems, which makes ingrown toenails an even bigger risk. That’s why we’ve outlined everything you need to know about ingrown toenails so that simple problem doesn’t become a bigger one.

What is an Ingrown Toenail? How Do I Know If I Have One?

An ingrown toenail is a condition in which the corner or side of your toenail, usually your big toe, grows into soft flesh. This can result in pain, swelling, redness, and sometimes lead to infection. You may have an ingrown toenail if you notice some of these symptoms:

  • Redness around your toenail.
  • Pain or tenderness in your toe along the side(s) of your nail.
  • Swelling of your toe around the nail.
  • Infection of the tissue around your nail.

There are a few things that can cause ingrown toenails, such as:

  • Wearing shoes that crowd your toenails.
  • Injuring your toenail.
  • Clipping your toenails too short.
  • Having unusually curved toenails.

If you have an ingrown toenail that is troubling you, it is best to have it looked at by your podiatrist to avoid further complications.

How Can I Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

While ingrown toenails are a common occurrence that most people will deal with at some point, there are certainly things you can do to try to stay clear of discomfort. Some things you can do to avoid ingrown toenails are:

  • Trim Your Toenails Correctly - While it may seem like the more aesthetically pleasing choice to curve your toenails to match your toe shape, it can actually cause more harm than good. Try cutting your toenails straight across so you can minimize your risk of developing ingrown toenails. You also want to make sure you aren’t trimming them too short, as the pressure from your shoes on your toes may promote nail growth into the tissue. Be sure to trim your toenails so that they are even with the tips of your toes.
  • Wear Proper Fitting Shoes - Be sure to get shoes that fit you properly. Wearing shoes that are too small or too tight may pinch your toes too much, causing a nail to grow in the surrounding tissue. If you have nerve damage in your feet, often present with diabetes, you may not be able to tell if your shoes are too tight. You can be proactive about this by buying shoes from a store that specializes in fitting shoes for people with foot problems.
  • Protect and Monitor Your Feet - It is important to protect your feet by wearing proper footwear. If you are going for a run, make sure you wear supportive shoes meant for running and exercise. If your job puts you at risk for injuring your toes, wear protective footwear such as steel-toed shoes. You should also consistently check your feet and monitor any irregularities. Especially if you have diabetes, or are prone to foot problems for any reason, check your feet daily for signs of ingrown toenails or other issues.

By taking precautions and safety measures, you can try your best to avoid developing ingrown toenails. If you think you have developed ingrown toenails or any other foot problems, you should seek help from your podiatrist.

When Should I See my Podiatrist?

Leaving ingrown toenails untreated can lead to complications, so it is best to see your podiatrist sooner rather than later. If an ingrown toenail is left untreated or persists for several weeks or months, it can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection, such as Osteomyelitis(opens in a new tab). Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria from an infection attacking the outer layer of the bone. Since treatment of ingrown toenails is relatively simple, leaving them untreated is taking an unnecessary risk.

Complications can be more severe for people with diabetes, as the condition can often cause poor blood flow and nerve damage to the feet. Minor cuts or scrapes may not heal properly and can become infected. If you have diabetes, it is especially important for you to seek help as soon as you notice signs of a problem.

So, when should you see your podiatrist? You should see your podiatrist for an ingrown toenail if:

  • You are experiencing severe discomfort, redness, or pus that seems to be spreading.
  • You have diabetes or other conditions that make you prone to foot infection.

If you have an ingrown toenail, it is better to be safe than sorry. San Antonio Podiatry offers treatment for ingrown toenails so you can walk comfortably.

Are you looking for a podiatrist near you? If you need relief from foot pain, the podiatry specialists at San Antonio Podiatry Associates are here to help. With more than 145 years of combined experience, our team is equipped to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and the efficient, personalized treatment you need. Schedule an appointment today, or call 210-405-7672 for more information.