While an ingrown toenail doesn’t sound terribly serious, anyone who has had one knows how painful it can be. The good news is that ingrown toenails can be fixed easily, and Dr. Adejoke Babalola, the Podiatrist of Perfect Footcare in New York City can get you back on your feet with just a simple office visit or two.

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What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail happens when the side of the nail grows into the skin of the toe instead of up and over, which causes pain, redness, and swelling. Ingrown toenails usually occur in the big toe, though the other toes can get them, too, just much less frequently. Left untreated, ingrown toenails can get infected, which can lead to more serious problems, so they should be addressed right away.

What causes ingrown toenails?

There are many reasons why adults get ingrown toenails, chief among them:

  • Cutting the nail too short
  • Rounding the edges of the nail
  • Wearing tight shoes or socks
  • Hard, curved nails, which happens when we age
  • Poor blood flow to the feet
  • An injury to the toenail

When should I see a doctor for an ingrown toenail?

Often, ingrown toenails can be treated at home, and the following are the do’s and don’ts:

  • Do soak the toe in warm water for 15 minutes, three times a day
  • Do wear comfortable shoes that don’t press up against the toe
  • Don’t dig at it with sharp instruments, which could cause infection and further damage

If the pain and swelling persist, or redness and pus develop, you should see a doctor because these could signal an infection, which, if left untreated, can take hold and spread to the bone.

People who suffer from diabetes or immune-system disorders should always make an appointment with the doctor to make sure an infection doesn’t develop around the ingrown toenail.

How are ingrown toenails treated?

If you are having trouble with your ingrown toenail, Dr. Babalola has a few ways to solve the problem quickly and safely:

  • Wedging the outer edge of the toe to encourage it to grow up and out of the skin
  • Removing part of the nail with a local numbing agent
  • If the problem tends to return to the same area, Dr. Babalola cuts away the nail and remove the tissue underneath to prevent regrowth.

All of the procedures are minor and will have you moving freely and pain-free in no time at all.