A painful big toe that is swollen and reddened on one side is often indicative of onychocryptosis, better known as an ingrown toenail. This common condition is one that Dr. Steven Vines, your foot doctor in Oxnard, CA, diagnoses and treats regularly. Dr. Steven Vines has provided some information about ingrown toenails and how they're treated.
What causes ingrown toenails?
For most of our patients, an ingrown toenail starts with trimming the nail of the big toe improperly: either too short or rounded on the sides instead of straight across. This can cause the edges of the toenail to grown into the skin next to it, which can be quite painful and even lead to an infection. Frequently wearing shoes or socks that are too small, in both length and width, may also lead to or exacerbate an ingrown toenail. People who have had an ingrown toenail in the past are prone to developing them again.
Treating ingrown toenails at home
Many ingrown toenails can be successfully managed with at-home care. Dr. Vines suggests soaking your foot in warm water a couple times a day, drying it thoroughly, and then carefully lifting the edge of the affected toenail and placing a small, clean piece of cotton underneath it to keep it away from the skin. This routine should be repeated every day until your toenail is back to normal. In the meantime, wearing open-toed shoes is a good way to help the nail heal and keep moisture from developing. If your toe is too painful to treat yourself, or your symptoms don't improve within a few days, it's time to contact your Oxnard foot doctor.
Seeking medical treatment for ingrown toenails
Ingrown toenails that are infected or don't respond to at-home treatment should be evaluated by your Oxnard foot doctor. A brief, in-office procedure to numb the toe and remove a small portion of the toenail may be necessary, and antibiotics may be prescribed. If you have diabetes or another medical condition that affects your circulation or complicates healing, seeing a podiatrist at the first sign of an ingrown toenail is essential.
Early intervention is key to successful treatment of ingrown toenails. If you think you may be developing one, contact your foot doctor in Oxnard, Dr. Steven Vines. We have a location in Ventura, CA, as well.