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“My ingrown toenail is so painful that I can’t touch it. Even when my bed sheet touches it, I am in complete agony."
An ingrown toenail is where a piece of nail pierces the flesh of the toe. It can feel as if you have a splinter, be extremely painful and inflamed or infected. In more severe cases, it can cause pus and bleeding. Ingrown toenails most commonly affect the big toenail but can affect the other toes too. A nail that is curling (involuted) into the flesh, but isn’t piercing the skin, isn’t an ingrown toenail, but can also feel very painful, as well as appear red and inflamed.
Active, sporty people are particularly prone, because they sweat more. Younger people are more likely to get it (as they pick their nails more, compared to older people who may not be able to reach their toes!).
The most common symptom is pain followed by inflammation in the surrounding nail area.
However, not everyone identifies an ingrown toenail correctly. Sometimes they have a curly nail which has a lot of debris (dirt or fluff) underneath it, or a corn or callus down the side of the nail, which can be nearly as painful. However, if it is a corn, the pain tends to be throbbing as opposed to the sharp pain you get with an ingrown toenail. If this is the case, your Podiatrist will remove the debris, and if necessary, thin the nail.
Not usually, unless you have an existing condition such as Diabetes, poor circulation or a reduced immune system. However, if left untreated, infection can develop in the rest of the toe and foot, and in very rare cases could get into the blood stream. The quicker you deal with it, the less painful the treatment will be.
Before you are seen by a Podiatrist, you can relieve the discomfort by bathing your foot in a salty foot bath, which helps to prevent infection and reduces inflammation. Then apply a clean sterile dressing, especially if you have any discharge, and rest your foot as much as possible.
How a Podiatrist will treat you will depend largely on the severity of your condition:
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