When patient’s come into my office with an ingrown toenail, I often ask three questions:
1. How long has it been bothering you?
2. Have you noticed any drainage (pus)?
3. What treatments have you tried?
Shocking answers abound! I wanted to share these questions with all of you because I have some important information and insights that I learned from the answers I receive from patients – so read on before you try trimming out those corners at home!
- How long has this been bothering you? You may be surprised to know how common ingrown toenails are and how LONG people go before getting the problem addressed. Typically my patient’s will tell me anywhere from 6 months to 5+ years as an average on how long they have been dealing with pain in their toes.
- Have you noticed any drainage? This question will usually elicit a laugh from the home surgeon. “Yup, but just blood when I ripped the corner out!” Or “Well, I saw some pus when I squeezed it, but it is better now”. Blood, pus, clear fluid- none of that is normal, and you should see your podiatrist immediately for help with an ingrown nail if you see any drainage at all!
- What treatments have you tried? Soaks in warm water and Epsom salts are good. Applying bacitracin and a bandaid is good. Digging out the corner with a pair of wire cutters (I kid you not!) is NOT okay. Not only will digging out the corners cause more inflammation and possibly infections, when we do that we actually create an even bigger ingrown nail!
The long story short – if you feel that you have to ‘dig’ out the corners of your nails, you may be setting yourself up for more pain and even an infection. It’s better to have that pesky ingrown nail looked at by a professional who can work with you on a game plan to treat it once and for all. And don't forget about comprehensive post op treatment to assure a quick and healthy recovery!