Skip to main content

Ingrown Toenails: A Common Problem

Just the thought of an ingrown toenail probably makes most people want to avoid the subject. But they are a reality of life for most people. Odds are if you haven't had an ingrown toenail yet in your life you will, and by and large all of us will at one point be on the receiving end of this malady. What causes it and how can you treat it? We asked Memorial Hospital of Converse County Podiatrist Dr. Craig Capron about this subject and asked for input on why it happens but also what we can do about it.

"Even infants can get ingrown toenails, which occurs when bacteria slide down into the grooves and cause an infection. Usually in older patients there's actually small ligaments in your toenails that can bend over time, basic age related changes or trauma. If you take X-Rays of the tip of the toe you can actually see little bone spurs in there or in the toenail that curve. Some of it's genetic too," stated Dr. Capron when asked for an overview of this common foot malady.

Improper toenail care can start the ball rolling. Sometimes due to convenience or just basic misunderstanding we can trim with the wrong equipment which can lead to further complications. "We'll help them trim [their toenails] properly, they may be using fingernail clippers instead of toenail clippers. Make little short cuts that are round and cut in, maybe turn the corners [of the nail in], so we help them cut straight across," continued Capron. "It's an old saying but whatever the shape of the toe is, that's how you cut."

Genetics can play a substantial roll if you develop ingrown toenails. Given the shape of the nail, it's growth pattern and curvature all of which can play a role in developing into a problem: "A lot of times they are really curved down and they'll try to make it better but can end up with a small corner of the nail that pokes into the skin and you get an infection or pain. Most of the ones we see are actually quite deep, they're actually genetically ingrown and we'll do a little bit of a block and trim the toenail back along the edges. If we see it on both sides and it's continuous you may be able to drop some acid along the sides to keep it from growing back."

As well further trauma from life can affect your chances of getting ingrown toenails "Who stubs their toe? Everybody. So you can end up with ingrown toenails due to those tiny bone spurs that occur from injury."

The best at home care you can do, is trimming correctly like you would your fingernails. "Make sure you have a little free edge on either corner of the nail and again cut to the shape, or straight across."

Should you develop an ingrown toenail, you can usually use antibiotic ointment to soften the callouses that are created in the nail grooves, cotton batting to relive pressure or soaking your foot in epsom salt to again soften the skin and relieve pain.

If you develop a painful ingrown toenail that simply won't go away be sure to contact our Wyoming Foot Specialists, Dr. Craig Capron or Dr. Travis Marshall for an appointment. They not only serve patients at our Medical Office Building in Douglas but routinely see patients in Gillette, Lusk, and Newcastle.