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Will My Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

Will My Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

Your big toe is tender and a bit red at the edge near the tip of the nail. These are early signs of an ingrown toenail. Life is busy, and you may not have time to see a doctor to check out the toe. So, what do you do? 

An ingrown toenail may improve with at-home care, but that doesn’t mean you should skip consulting with a doctor.

At MidJersey Orthopaedics in Bridgewater, Flemington, and Washington, New Jersey, we understand how life sometimes gets in the way of taking care of your health. We offer urgent care appointments throughout the week and Saturday appointments at our offices in Bridgewater and Flemington, making it more convenient for you to get the health services you need, like podiatry care for an ingrown toenail.

In this month’s blog, we want to talk about ingrown toenails, what you need to do to help them heal on their own, and when it’s time to get professional care.

Is it an ingrown toenail?

When managing issues involving the feet, you need to know what you’re dealing with so you know how to treat it. 

An ingrown toenail is a nail that grows into the skin of the toe at the side border of the nail bed. You can have an ingrown nail on any toe, but it most often affects the big toe. During the early stages, you may see where the nail digs into the skin and has swelling, redness, and some pain. 

As the nail grows and cuts into the skin, you may see blood or pus and feel pain, making it hard to wear socks and shoes. When the nail breaks through the skin, bacteria can enter and cause an infection. If your toe is very red, swollen, and warm to the touch, you may have an infection. 

An infected ingrown toenail requires medical attention to prevent complications. 

At-home care for ingrown toenail 

You can treat an ingrown toenail at home during the early stages when the nail first digs into the skin and shows no signs of an infection.

At-home care for an ingrown toenail involves soaking the affected foot in warm water 3-4 times a day and rubbing the soft skin at the side of the nail. Soaking and rubbing reduces inflammation. 

Bacteria love a warm and moist environment, so thoroughly dry your feet after soaking. We also recommend wearing roomy shoes or sandals with open toes to prevent further irritation.

People with diabetes and circulation problems are at greater risk of infection from an ingrown toenail and should skip at-home care and schedule an appointment right away. 

When to see the doctor

If you fail to see improvements in your ingrown toenail symptoms within three days of at-home care, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You also need to see the doctor if your toe is too painful to treat or you have signs of an infection, such as:

Treatment for your ingrown toenail depends on the severity of the injury. During the early stages, we may lift the nail and use cotton to separate it from the skin, stopping further growth into the skin.

For a more serious ingrown toenail, we may remove the portion of the nail growing into the skin or the entire nail. We also prescribe antibiotics for infections. 

And our podiatrists spend time teaching you how to trim your toenails to prevent future ingrown toenails.

An ingrown toenail won’t heal on its own, but you can start treatment at home. When at-home care isn’t an option, we can help. Call us or use the online booking button to schedule an appointment. 

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