If you’ve got an ingrown toenail, you’re probably used to walking around with a lot of pain. Ingrown toenails are very common and many people get them. While you might feel like you can treat it yourself, it’s not a good idea to let it go untreated for too long.
Ingrown toenails can become big problems if you don’t get treatment. The providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain more about what happens if you don’t get treatment for your ingrown toenails.
The cause of ingrown toenails
Toenails become ingrown when the edges of your toenail grow into the soft tissue. This results in the toenail causing an infection in the soft tissue. As the toenail pokes into the skin, it becomes irritated. Most often, your big toe is the one affected.
You can try to relieve the ingrown toenail at this stage, which may prevent it from developing an infection, but this is a very limited window of time for intervention. The break in the skin allows bacteria to get in, which can cause an infection.
The symptoms of an ingrown toenail
If your ingrown toenail gets infected, you’ll definitely be able to feel it right away. Your toe will be red, swollen, and may feel hot to the touch. Some of the other symptoms of an infected ingrown toenail include:
- Pain or tenderness in your toe on one or both sides of the nail
- Redness around your nail
- Swelling around your nail
- Infection around your toenail
In more advanced cases, you may also experience:
- Extreme pain in your foot
- Pus or redness that seems to be spreading
- If you have diabetes or circulation problems, you need immediate medical attention
What causes ingrown toenails?
Although anyone can get an ingrown toenail, certain conditions make it more likely to occur. Some of the risk factors for developing ingrown toenail include the following:
- Having a history of previous ingrown toenails
- Cutting your toenails too short
- Cutting your toenails on a curve or having them grow at a curved angle
- Injuring your toenail
- Wearing tight shoes that put pressure on your toes
Any diseases that cause circulation disorders, including diabetes, also puts you at greater risk.
The risk of leaving ingrown toenails untreated
While you can try to treat an ingrown toenail by yourself, such as by using epsom salt soaks and warm water, you shouldn’t do this for too long. Treating an ingrown toenail as soon as possible can prevent more serious complications.
Leaving an ingrown toenail untreated can become very serious. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can spread to the bone beneath and infect your bone. You can also develop gangrene, which is the death and decay of the tissue.
Diabetes is a particularly serious risk for foot disorders. Many people with diabetes develop some degree of neuropathy in their feet, which means that they may not feel as much pain from an infection or injury.
Ingrown toenails may not seem like a big deal but they can become more serious very quickly. Contact the Run Doctor providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine today or request an appointment online.