About That Toenail of Yours

An Overhead View Of Person's Hand Holding Magnifying Glass Over Sore Toe Nail On Floor It’s a good thing to keep your toenails trimmed, especially during our hot Utah summers when everyone’s going to see your feet. 

But don’t trim them too short or you may be setting the stage for an ingrown toenail. 

Ingrown toenails are a pain in the toe! They occur when the skin either grows over the nail or the nail grows into the skin. Either way, the result is a painful ingrown toenail. 

We can address that ingrown toenail at our five Foot & Ankle Clinics of Utah locations. 

What causes an ingrown toenail? 

Because our toes, particularly our big toes, are curved at the top, most of us tend to trim our toenails to match that arc. But that’s not doing your toes any favors. Usually, toenails grow straight out, but when we take back the corners of the nail it can encourage the nail to now grow into what’s called the nail groove on the side of the nail. The sides of the nail curl down and dig into your skin. 

Wearing overly tight shoes or shoes where the toe box is too short also lead to ingrown toenails. When you do this, you’re basically pushing your nail down and the only place it can grow is into your skin. 

The cause can also be congenital. You may have a nail that is too large for the toe. In others, their toenail isn’t flat, but curves down into the skin usually on the outer side of the toe (facing the outside of the foot). 

How do I know if it’s ingrown? 

When you first have an ingrown toenail, it will usually be hard, swollen, and sensitive. As it continues, the area will become red and infected. Now it will hurt a ton; simply wearing a closed shoe won’t be any fun. Any or our toenails can become ingrown, but it happens most often with our big toes. 

The pain is the telltale symptom. If an ingrown toenail becomes infected, it will be red, and you’ll likely see some pus draining from the area. 

How we treat ingrown toenails 

You may be able to remedy your ingrown toenail by soaking your foot in warm water a few times a day and then gently lifting the edge of the ingrown toenail from its embedded position. 

But many ingrown toenails need professional help when there is an infection. We’ll provide you with a course of oral antibiotics, and we’ll partially or completely remove the nail. We may also remove a portion of the underlying nail bed and some of the adjacent soft tissues. We may even remove a part of the growth center. In children who develop chronic ingrown toenails, it can be best to permanently remove the nail. 

If your toenail area is red, tender, and inflamed, we need to see you. Give us a call at any of our five locations in American Fork (801), 763-3885; Payson, (801) 765-1718; Springville (801) 491-3668; and Orem (two locations, (801) 226-2421 or (801) 765-1718.

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