Ingrown Toenails, the Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Modern life can be hectic, fast paced and punishing to our overall well-being. Within today’s world of greater self-awareness, we have become ever more conscious of our health. Pressure groups, health gurus and governmental departments have now, for a number of years, been bombarding the public with advice, directives and, in some cases, legislation. All the information we are now given is well intentioned, it is aimed at every individual, with the intent of having everyone take greater care and responsibility for their health.
We are told about the risks that modern life can have on our hearts and lungs. We are encouraged to regularly have our eyes and teeth checked, and every summer we have the authoritative finger wagged at us, warning of the dangers the sun can pose. We are lectured on the importance of a healthy diet plenty of exercise, and the risks that stress can pose to our health.
And yet, with all the advice we are given on how to lead a healthy life, there is one yawning gap in all that knowledge and information. We are never told to, or informed as to how, we should take care of one of the hardest working parts of our bodies, our feet. Our feet are almost constantly working during our waking hours, and yet they seem to get ignored. If the working ability of our feet becomes impaired, then virtually every part of our life will be negatively affected.
Foot Health Practitioners (FHP), the length and breadth of the country treat a wide variety of foot complaints. Some complaints are caused by disease, some by genetics, others as the result of injury or lifestyle. Of the many problems that professional practitioners treat, ingrowing toenails are one of the most common.
Astonishingly, across the UK, 20% of patients visiting their doctor with feet ailments, have ingrown toenails. Although a doctor will be able to diagnose the existence of ingrown nails, they are not best placed to deal with the problem. Your local FHP is the best person to both, diagnose and treat this common complaint.
Know the Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails
An ingrowing toenail is when the side, or both sides, of a nail grow into the soft flesh of the toe. All too often, sufferers don’t realize there is a problem and fail to notice the early signs, or simply ignore the early indicators, and don’t seek help until they are actually in pain.
Redness around the edges and up to the tip of the affected toe is a warning indicator of there being a problem. This will be followed by discomfort and, very often, swelling. When the early signs are ignored, walking, standing or any pressure put on the toe can be painful and debilitating, this has a negative impact on a person’s ability to conduct their normal everyday activities. If ignored in the longer term, mild or serious infection can occur which will compound the problem and require more intensive treatment.
What are the Causes of Ingrowing Toenails?
There are numerous reasons for why an individual may suffer from ingrowing toenails. Genetics can play a part. Matthew Fitzpatrick, a consultant podiatrist from The College of Podiatry, has stated that anyone whose parents have suffered with this complaint will have a greater disposition towards similar sufferance themselves. Unusually curved nails are more prone to becoming ingrown, and is a common feature inherited from a parent.
Correct trimming practices of the toenails is vital, done incorrectly can quickly lead to a nail becoming ingrown. For many years the advice for trimming toenails was to simply cut straight across the nail. However, this can cause sharp corners which can easily pierce the outer surface of the skin. Matthew Fitzpatrick advises cutting the toenail in the same way that you would cut a thumb nail, and then file the corners smooth. This decreases the chance of the nail becoming ingrown.
Foot health practitioners often see ingrowing toenail sufferers who are in fact a victim of their own vanity. This is particularly true for ladies. Modern, fashion shoes are not often designed with feet health concerns in mind. Design and manufacturing concepts pay little heed to the working requirements of the foot. All to often the toes are cramped due a shoe’s design or sizing. This cramping of the toes can force the nail into the soft skin tissue, and if such footwear is worn with persistent regularity, the nail can grow further into the toe.
It is easy to overlook the level of punishment feet take, even just through a normal, daily routine feet are working very hard. Feet are also one of the most vulnerable parts of the body and are constantly at risk from injury. Impact injury to the toe can damage the nails, and the nail bed. These types of nail injury can easily result with it starting to become ingrown.
Choosing the Correct Treatment
The importance of having the correct treatment for an ingrowing toenail cannot be understated. Badly chosen treatment methods can lead to further problems and additional, more invasive treatment to correct the problem. Early, professional diagnosis and treatment is most strongly recommended.
There are many treatment methods that claim to be a cure for ingrown toenails, including cider vinegar and dental floss, certainly quack remedies with no scientific basis. Also, your local pharmacist will have a mind-boggling array of products, all of which will claim to be the best cure for your ailment. A person without the professional knowledge has no way know of knowing which product is ideal for them, and is very likely to waste money trying different products in their search for the correct remedy.
The only sure way to have your condition properly diagnosed and treated is to consult your local FHP. Your practitioner can assess the severity of your condition and administer the appropriate treatment, saving recovery time, and very likely money. Treatment is usually straight forward and quick with little or no side effects when conducted in-clinic by a professional practitioner.
In-clinic treatment will usually take the form of an onychectomy, or ablation. This procedure will see the area around the toenail numbed, the FHP will then remove an adequate amount of the offending nail. If there is a significant amount of ingrowth, there may be a small amount of bleeding, in which case the area will then be appropriately dressed. Although rare, in cases of extreme, or relentlessly repetitive ingrowing, your FHP may recommend the complete removal of the offending nail.
Preventing the Scourge of Ingrowing Toenails
It is safe to anticipate that an ingrowing toenail will recover to full normal growth after professional treatment by your local FHP, with no lasting side effects. Obviously, a sufferer will not want the condition to return, in this respect, your local FHP can also help. Along with treatment, professional, preventative advice is invaluable.
Be sure to choose your footwear carefully, give thought to how well your shoes fit. Avoid tight or lose fitting shoes, your feet should feel snug and well supported without any pinching. If possible, change your footwear, including socks, regularly during the day, and discard shoes with badly worn soles or heels.
You should bathe and wash your feet as often as is practicably possible. Ensure feet are dried thoroughly, and regularly inspect your feet for any abnormalities. Any changes in appearance, such as swelling or colour, or if any irritation or tenderness is felt, then professional advice should be sort. Your first stop should always be your local FHP who can make an expert assessment of any existing, or potential problems.
Obtaining a Professional Consultation
Across the UK, cities, towns and villages have greater access to private professional foot health practitioners than at any time before. In selecting a practitioner and a clinic, be sure to look for professional endorsements. Your FHP should be accredited as a Member of the British Association of Foot Health Professionals (MAFHP) and a Member of the College of Foot Health Professionals (MCFHP). This will give you the confidence in knowing that you are consulting a professionally trained practitioner who has the knowledge and skills to expertly diagnose and treat your ailments.
Such professionals can be found locally in most regions of the UK, Leicestershire is particularly fortunate in having Rebekah Henning practice in the county. Ms. Henning is a highly skilled foot health practitioner who practices using the most up to date methods and equipment. With a strong belief in professionalism and client welfare, she has emerged as a leading exponent within the FHP profession.
Should you be unfortunate to be afflicted with an ingrowing toenail, there is no need to travel to a large city and seek out a fashionable, expensive private clinic. There are dozens of local, convenient clinics with skilled professionals. Many with excellent transport links for a wide catchment area. Clinics which are modern, friendly and with disabled access bring local affordability to everyone.
One such practice is Feet@theclinic, Loughborough. This modern clinic is ideally suited to provide a professional service to middle England, and with a local, friendly feel it has become the area’s leading, and first call foot health clinic. At the first sign of an ingrowing toenail, or any other foot complaint, contact Feet@theclinic, Loughborough for assured, professional diagnostics and treatment.