Some of the most common foot problems affecting men, women, and children of all ages has to do with your nails. Granted, these are small parts of your body and most often the conditions are not serious or life-threatening. However, they can cause pain, inhibit your normal activity, and lead to more serious infections. Such is the case with ingrown toenails.
What’s Normal in a Toenail?
Healthy nails grow out rather straight, or with only a slight curvature. The tissue is hard and looks pink or tan in color. The ends of the nail beyond the bed are white. They are not painful or brittle, and have no odd lines on them or bands of color underneath. That is the ideal.
The reality is that sometimes nails are an odd color or shape, with ridges, dips, hollows, and bands of brown, black or white color underneath. Then there are ingrown toenails, where the sides of the nail begin to curl under and press into the skin at the edges. This can be very painful.
What Happens to Cause Ingrowing
There are many reasons your nail may curve like this. You may have inherited a nail shape that is more curved, which you can’t do much about. You may have injured the nail by stubbing it or dropping something heavy on it, which changed the growth pattern of the nail. You can’t always avoid this either.
There are two other causes which you can do something about, however. One is the shoes you wear. If they are too tight and keep pressing the surrounding skin towards the edge of the nail, it can become ingrown. Trimming your nails too short or with too much cut off at the corners can also lead to the problem.
No matter what is causing it, if you don’t deal with the issue, you will likely develop pain, redness and swelling in the area. The nail could also pierce into the skin and open your toe to an infection in the toe. Signs that this has happened include puffy tissue, drainage (sometimes a greenish pus), and a bad odor.
Treatment for Ingrown Nails in Berkeley, CA
When you notice pain, redness or swelling, take note of which shoes you’ve been wearing and don’t use them for a while to see if the problem subsides. Meanwhile, use warm foot soaks to soften the nail, and try to gently lift it away from the irritated skin. (You might try stuffing a tiny bit of absorbent cotton or dental floss beneath the edge to hold it away from the skin.) A dab of antibiotic cream may help stave off an infection until the tissue heals.
If you notice puffiness, drainage and odor, it’s time to let Yuko Miyazaki, DPM have a look. Our office can remove the ingrown section of the nail and prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. If you often have trouble with the same nail, we can treat the matrix for that curved part of the nail so it does not grow out again.
To get help for any kind of foot problem, call our office in Berkeley, CA at (510) 647-3744 to set up an appointment, or request one using our online contact form. We want your feet to be healthy and take you where you need to go without pain, so get in touch with us today.