When Does an Ingrown Toenail Require a Podiatrist’s Help?

An ingrown toenail may not seem like a major medical issue but for some people, the condition can have serious health consequences.


At Alpine Foot & Ankle Clinic, we specialize in treating ingrown toenails for patients in and around Highland, Utah. Our team, led by Scott Shelton, DPM, can also give you tips to care for your nails properly to prevent additional complications.


What to know about ingrown toenails


An ingrown toenail develops when your nail grows into the soft skin near your nail bed. The deeper the nail goes into your skin, the more pain and other symptoms you might experience.


A common cause of ingrown toenails is cutting your nails incorrectly. If you cut your nails too short or at an angle, your risk of the nail growing into the skin increases.


Other factors that can increase your risk for ingrown toenails include:

  • Toenail injuries
  • Poor foot hygiene
  • Wearing too-tight shoes
  • Having diabetes or other chronic health conditions

If you’re prone to getting ingrown toenails, you must frequently check your feet for symptoms that may require Dr. Shelton’s intervention.


When to get professional help for an ingrown toenail


A common consequence of an ingrown toenail that goes untreated is an infection. Once the nail pierces your skin, bacteria and other germs can travel into your skin and cause noticeable symptoms of an infection.


Warning signs of an infection include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding or pus discharge

You might also have difficulty wearing shoes or walking because of pain and swelling in your toe.


If you have diabetes or a health issue that weakens your immune system, any infection can increase your risk for more serious complications. In some cases, an untreated infection can lead to the death of tissue (gangrene) and the spread of infection to other parts of your body.


How a podiatrist treats ingrown toenails


Showing symptoms of an ingrown toenail likely means it’s too late for you to treat the issue at home. Dr. Shelton recommends that you schedule an appointment at Alpine Foot & Ankle as soon as you notice toenail problems.


We offer same-day treatments to relieve your symptoms and help clear infections in your skin. Dr. Shelton examines your nail to determine which treatment is right for you. If the nail hasn’t grown too far into your skin, he may place a gutter splint underneath it to encourage the nail to grow above your skin.


If your nail is embedded deeper in your skin, Dr. Shelton may need to perform a procedure to remove part or all of your nail. You might have to take a course of antibiotics to address the infection or apply topical medications to the wound on your skin. We also guide you in how to prevent additional ingrown nails.


You should always trim your nails straight across and remove sharp edges with a nail file. If your nails are thick, you can soak your toes in warm water for 10 minutes before clipping your nails. It’s also important to always ensure your feet are clean and dry to keep your skin and your nails healthy.


If you have symptoms of an ingrown toenail, schedule a consultation at Alpine Foot & Ankle online or call the office today.


If you do not see your insurance provider, contact our office.



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