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Ingrown toenails overwhelm?

By Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited – The Holistic Clinic. E-mail your questions / concerns / comments to lhuntley@almawiclinic.com; or call to make an appointment at 662-1732 Tuesday - Saturday. Check for the Clinic at www.almawiclinic.com.

We have many clients coming to our Clinic with ingrown nails. The Carnival toes for some, for others the toe that has been driving them crazy for months, even years. It is a constant battle with clients, especially the new ones, in getting them to understand that 'self-surgery' is hardly the right treatment option. Many of you tend to just dig in to ease the pain and discomfort. However, in most cases, severe damage is caused via your self-surgery, and additionally, major infection can occur. Although I have written on this topic before, I felt the need to re-visit it from a slightly different outlook, given the increased number of cases we're seeing these days.

Prevention

Preventing ingrown toenail pain is in your best interest. The pain after developing ingrown toenails can be really unbearable; in addition to which, there is every chance that the damage done could be so severe, that you could end up having no cure. Do observe the following:

• Trim your toenails straight across, no curving. For persons who are diabetic, or have circulation problems and can't trim their nails themselves due to ingrown or thickening, it's best to visit a chiropodist/podiatrist/foot health practitioner or experienced pedicurist to have it done.

• Do not cut your nails too short. Keep them at the level of the tips of the toes.

• Avoid wearing shoes that are pointy or tight. Wear shoes with a wide toe box area.

• Also avoid shoes that are too big as they can also cause pressure on the toes while walking briskly or running.

Home Remedies

• If you have an ingrown nail DO NOT try to "dig out" the sides to ease the pain and discomfort; this can cause even more complications.

• Soak the infected feet in warm water, epsom salts and a few drops of tea tree oil for 15-20 minutes to reduce swelling, inflammation and avoid further infection. This also helps alleviate the tenderness.

• Apply an antibiotic ointment at least once a day, and if inflamed or very tender, apply a bandage. Does this preferably after you shower. It decreases the possibility of infection.

• Use open-toed shoes or sandals until your toe feels better.

• If there's severe pain, take over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate the pain until you can see your doctor/chiropodist/podiatrist/foot health practitioner.

• If you have diabetes, check your feet daily for signs of ingrown toenails or any other foot problems.

Choosing a Pedicurist

Find out whether your pedicurist is trained and or equipped to deal with such issues. For a mild to moderate case of ingrown toenails, a highly trained Pedicurist could treat with it. This professional would have the required tools to help deal with the problems, and would advise on how to go forward in treating with the nails.

Toenail Wedging /Removal

A wedge resection is a minor nail operation, usually done in a chiropodist's/podiatrist's/doctor's office. Local anaesthetic is administered, and the obstructing piece of nail is removed. There is often very little in the way of discomfort afterwards. The whole process is generally a lot less painful than a mildly ingrown nail. 

Sometimes a nail avulsion (removal) is done; this should only be considered in extreme circumstances as trauma to the nail bed could occur. This damage to the nail bed in most cases could even result in nerve damage. As well, the bed in some instances heals with a bump (raised), resulting in nail growth being abnormal in appearance. Finally, there is the possibility that the trauma could lead to permanent damage, with no nail ever growing back on the bed. So, think twice before rushing to have your nail removed!

Self-Surgery…no way!

Doing monthly maintenance, pedicures, whether it's at home or professionally is key. This also aids in detecting or monitoring foot conditions. It is perfectly normal to handle the early stage of ingrown toenails at home. However, it is still advised that it should be assessed by a professional to ensure it isn't infected/out of control. If pain or discomfort is occurring, it is best to immediately seek professional assistance. Self-surgery is never the answer as it can make matters much worse. At the Clinic we have tools/services/products required to treat with the condition; but for extreme cases, we can refer you to the relevant doctor to have a wedge resection (surgical procedure) done.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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