Ingrown toenails may seem like a relatively benign medical condition, but aside from the pain and redness they can cause, many people who delay treatment for ingrown toenails will go on to develop very serious infections that can spread to other areas of the foot. People with circulation problems, immune system issues, and diabetes are at increased risk for these infections, but they can affect anyone. Dr. Kevin Blue, DPM, FACFAS, is double-board certified and has extensive experience in ingrown toenail treatment, relieving painful symptoms in patients at Colorado Foot + Ankle Sports Medicine in Parker, Colorado, and taking steps to help patients prevent their recurrence.
An ingrown toenail is a nail that’s begun to grow into the soft tissue at the edge of the nail bed. Ingrown toenails can cause considerable pain as they grow, as well as swelling and redness in the tissue around your nail. Symptoms are worse when pressure is placed on the toe.
Without treatment, your nail can push through the skin, exposing the area to an infection, which can eventually spread to the rest of your toe and even into your foot. The risk of infection is especially high among people with diabetes and other issues that affect:
Ingrown toenails can occur on any toe, but they almost exclusively form on the big toe, usually as a result of pressure from ill-fitting shoes. Trimming nails improperly can also increase the risk of developing an ingrown toenail.
Ingrown toenails can form as a result of injury to the toe or foot, but most commonly, they occur for two reasons:
Shoes that are too narrow or tight in the toes, shoes that are too small lengthwise, and long-term use of high heels that force the toes downward into the toe portion of the shoe are all likely to cause ingrown toenails as your nails are pressed more closely into the surrounding skin. Nails that are trimmed in a curved shape and nails that are trimmed very short also are more likely to become ingrown compared to toenails that are trimmed straight across.
If you have nails that are very curved or thick, you’re also more likely to suffer from ingrown toenails.
Some mildly ingrown nails can be treated by gently lifting the edge of the nail and inserting a piece of sterile gauze to encourage the nail to grow above the skin and to enable the injured area to heal. More often, Dr. Blue will need to remove the ingrown portion of your toenail, and if infection is present, possibly the entire nail.
Dr. Blue performs nail removal using a local anesthetic to completely numb your toe. Procedures typically take less than 10 minutes and usually require no stitches or cumbersome bandages. In fact, you’ll probably be able to wear your regular shoes while the area heals. After the nail is removed, Dr. Blue may apply a special solution to prevent the nail from growing back into the skin.
"Extremely knowledgeable about foot and ankle conditions. Wonderful doctor, great office and staff, would recommend his services to anyone."
"Dr. Blue has great bedside manner and is a great surgeon as well. He has cared for many of my patients, friends and co-workers and the feedback is always excellent."
"I was lucky enough to be referred to Dr. Blue and he was able to come up with a treatment plan that has cleared up my gout issues and has given me a new hop in my step."
"I am very selective about the doctors I see, so I chose Dr. Blue based on his reviews and certifications. Dr. Blue is thorough and detailed oriented."