Lauren Reed, DPM
Foot and Ankle Specialist & Foot Surgeon located in Spring, Houston, & Humble, TX
Ingrown toenails may seem like a small irritation, not a medical concern, but they can lead to infections and become a recurring problem without proper treatment and prevention. At her practice in Houston, Tomball, Cleveland, Texas, Lauren Reed, DPM, is a foot surgeon who can remove ingrown toenails and help you find lasting relief using minimally invasive procedures. To get expert treatment for an ingrown toenail, call or use online booking to schedule an appointment today.
Ingrown Toenails Q & A
What causes ingrown toenails?
An ingrown toenail happens when the side or corner of a toenail begins growing into the surrounding skin, which causes the area to become painful, red, and swollen. They most often affect your big toe.
Causes of ingrown toenails include:
- Cutting your toenails too short
- Cutting your toenails into rounded or irregular ends rather than straight across
- Poor foot hygiene
- Dropping something onto your foot
- Repeatedly kicking a ball
- Ill-fitting footwear, which pushes your nail into your skin
You can prevent most ingrown toenails through proper foot hygiene and grooming habits.
When do ingrown toenails require medical attention?
Most ingrown toenails are mild and heal within two to four days with at-home care. You can soothe the pain and prevent infection by soaking your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes three to four times a day and covering the affected toe with antibiotic cream and a bandage. If it’s painful to wear closed-toe shoes because they rub against your ingrown toenail, wearing sandals can help you stay comfortable and avoid further irritating the area.
Sometimes, ingrown toenails become infected, especially in people who have a condition causing poor blood flow or a weakened immune system. If you have diabetes, you should see Dr. Reed as soon as possible for an ingrown toenail. Diabetes causes wounds to heal more slowly and leaves you more prone to infections, so quickly attending to any wounds, including ingrown toenails, is important for avoiding any complications.
Signs of an infected ingrown toenail include:
- Worsened redness and swelling
- Pus draining from the area
- Increased pain
- Foul odor coming from the affected area
If your ingrown toenail gets worse and you experience the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Reed. Do not try to treat the infection yourself.
How are infected ingrown toenails treated?
Dr. Reed strives to treat infected ingrown toenails in the least painful and invasive way possible. The first line of defense is a round of antibiotics to treat the infection. If your infection does not improve with antibiotics, she may recommend minor surgery to drain the infection and allow your nail to grow back healthily.
If you have surgery for your ingrown toenail, Dr. Reed treats the area with a local anesthetic to ensure you’re comfortable during the procedure. She’ll then remove the smallest possible portion of your nail so it no longer pushes into the infected skin. While you recover from the procedure, you’ll need to keep the area wrapped and apply antibiotic ointment, but you’ll feel better within two days and be able to return to strenuous activity within two weeks.
If you have an ingrown toenail, call Lauren Reed, DPM, or schedule an appointment online today.