Ingrown Toenails 

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Q & A

What is an ingrown toenail? 

An ingrown toenail is a common and painful condition that most commonly affects the big toes. It occurs when the side(s) or corner(s) of the nail start to grown inward and penetrate the skin of the toe. This often causes  pain, redness, swelling, drainage, and if left untreated, can become infected. 

Ingrown Nail.jpg

What causes ingrown toenails? 

An ingrown toenail can be caused by trimming the toenails too short, rounding off the edges of the nail or by wearing shoes that are too tight. It  may also be caused by the inherent shape of your nail. Pincer type nails are unusually curved nails that are a genetically inherited trait. 

When should I seek treatment? 

You are encouraged to see the doctor right away if you are experiencing throbbing toe pain, redness, swelling, or drainage. Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk for infection if an ingrown toenail develops. Dr. Tien is often available for same-day consultations in Orange County if you are experiencing this discomfort. It is best to go see your doctor wearing open-toed shoes. 

How are ingrown toenails treated?

Initially, ingrown toenails may be treated at home with epsom salt soaks twice daily. Your primary care doctor may also prescribe you oral antibiotics and instruct you to apply a topical antibiotic ointment and cover your nail with a bandaid. 

Treatment by a podiatrist often involves an evaluation and recommendation for an in-office procedure if needed. This may involve a numbing injection to remove the ingrown portion of the nail using special instruments. A chemical may be used to permanently prevent this portion of the nail from coming back. Dr. Tien will work with you to determine which treatment is recommended for you. Patients often return to school and work the same day after the procedure. 

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