By Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care
June 08, 2017
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If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail you know that it can be an extremely painful condition. The nail curves down on the side of a toe and literally begins to grow back into the skin surrounding the nail. This usually causes the skin to become red, swollen, warm and painful. Once the nail actually punctures the skin, it creates an entry point for bacteria and an infection may develop as well. At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we see many cases of ingrown toenails that could have been prevented or at least stopped before they progressed to an infected state. Unfortunately several myths persist about the cause, treatment and prevention of this common condition. Here’s a few we would like to clear up:

MYTH: Cutting a notch in your toenail will prevent it from becoming ingrown.

TRUTH: Not only does this old wives tale not work, it is likely to result in an injury or infection if you try it. Ditto for shoving a cotton ball under your nail. These types of “bathroom surgeries” are always a bad idea.

MYTH: You don’t need to see the podiatrist for an ingrown toenail. There are over-the-counter treatments for that.

TRUTH: Over the counter treatments for ingrown nails may reduce the pain but they don’t usually cure it. If your nail is not infected (showing pus or any type of drainage), you can try soaking your foot in warm water several times a day and then trying to gently massage the ingrown nail out. If this does not work, however, you should make an appointment at our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office and let one of our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral and Dr. Nrupa Shah treat the toenail.

MYTH: Treatment for an ingrown toenail from the podiatrist is painful.

TRUTH: The treatment is far less painful than the ingrown nail! In severe or chronic cases, the foot doctor will numb the affected toe with a local anesthetic and remove part of the nail border. Patients will usually experience immediate relief. If an infection is present an antibiotic may also be prescribed.

MYTH: Ingrown toenails are inherited—there’s nothing you can do about them.

TRUTH: While for some people the tendency toward ingrown nails is genetic, there are also steps you can take to help reduce the risk. Trimming toenails straight across with no curved edges and wearing shoes that fit properly and don’t squeeze the toes are two ways to help prevent ingrown nails.

If you have an ingrown toenail, stop suffering and contact us for an appointment at: 732-662-3050.