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The Dangers of Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are common. Because of this, you may be tempted to see if one will go away on its own. This, however, wouldn't be the wise thing to do. There are several reasons why you should seek medical attention for an ingrown toenail, especially if you have diabetes.

In this blog, the providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain why letting an ingrown toenail go untreated can be dangerous.

Causes of ingrown toenails

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of a toenail begins to grow into the soft tissue around it. This can lead to redness, swelling, oozing puss, and infection. Ingrown toenails can develop for several reasons, including the following:

Poor trimming techniques

One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is improper nail trimming techniques. You should always trim your nails straight across and make sure not to round them at the edges.

Tight shoes

Wearing shoes that are too tight can put too much pressure on your toes. Try to wear shoes with a wide toe box.

Sweaty feet

Having exceptionally sweaty feet can lead to ingrown toenails. In general, try to keep your feet clean and dry as much as possible.


Engaging in certain sports, such as running and soccer, may increase your risk of developing ingrown toenails. Wear the appropriate shoes for your sport and try to protect your feet as much as possible.

In addition, there can be a genetic component to ingrown toenails. If one of your parents has trouble with ingrown toenails, you may have a higher risk of developing them.

Dangers of not treating ingrown toenails

The biggest risk of an ingrown toenail is that it may become infected. An infection can lead to a condition called gangrene, in which tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. In severe cases, gangrene can even lead to amputation.

Fortunately, gangrene is not very common. However, ingrown toenails can lead to a number of more common issues. One potential problem is a slow-healing wound. Because feet don’t usually get much air exposure, this can lead to a wound not healing as fast as it should.

This problem can be compounded if you have diabetes. Diabetes can lead to poor circulation in the feet, and this means the area may not get the resources it needs to heal well. Furthermore, if an infection is not treated, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Treating ingrown toenails

If you get an ingrown toenail, your podiatrist at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine can treat it quickly and effectively. Your podiatrist may address your condition with a splint, laser treatment, or surgery, among other options.

Leaving an ingrown toenail untreated can lead to serious outcomes. If you have signs of an ingrown toenail, such as swelling or redness, we can give your toe a thorough evaluation and give you the treatment you need. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine today.

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