Foot & Ankle Surgery located in Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX

Can an Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

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Can an Ingrown Toenail Heal on Its Own?

Ingrown toenails are an unpleasant problem that can affect anyone and can lead to infection if not treated properly. But is it possible for the condition to resolve itself on its own? Read on to find out.

Toes are essential for forward motion when walking, running, performing, or jumping, and there are a lot of common foot problems that can lead to pain and irritation in these digits. Some illnesses cause pain in different parts of the toe, such as gout, plantar plate tear, Morton’s toe, and turf toe, while others cause issues while walking. These include broken or sprained toes, hammertoes, corns, calluses, tendinitis, neuropathy, and ingrown toenails

The last condition is often mild, but in some cases, it can lead to infection and worse. While this illness can be managed at home if you know what to do, is it something that can go away on its own? Let’s get some answers by examining ingrown toenails, their causes and signs, and the chances of them healing without aid.

If you live in the Fort Worth or Weatherford, Texas, area and you’re struggling with ingrown toenails or other problems affecting your lower digits, Drs. Gary Driver, Glen Beede, Gregory Jaryga, and their experienced staff at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists can help.

Understanding ingrown toenails

Also referred to as onychocryptosis, this is a problem where the corner of your toenail grows into your skin (the nail bed) and is more common in the big toe, but any toe can suffer from it. It’s a common enough foot problem that 2 out of 10 patients making visits to a foot specialist are having it looked at, and the effect it can have on your foot health varies depending on its severity. 

Left untreated or dealing with chronic issues with ingrown toenails can lead to infection, scarring in the nail fold, and, in rare cases, an infection that spreads to your bone (osteomyelitis).

Causes and symptoms

When you’re intensely active on a regular basis, in sports like soccer, kickboxing, football, or ballet, repeatedly kicking something or anything else that puts constant pressure on your feet, you increase the risks of this condition. Many other issues can lead to this problem, like cutting toes improperly (straight across), curved, irregular toenails, tight footwear, toe injuries, improper hygiene, poor posture, and genetic factors.

The most common signs of ingrown toenails are pain, redness, and swelling, possibly with fluid buildup or bleeding. If the toenail becomes infected, you can expect to see things like oozing, pus, or overgrowth of skin around the toe.

Chances of healing without treatment

This is a minor condition, but once the nail starts growing into your skin, it doesn’t simply resolve itself. Even if you don’t go see a doctor about it, home care will be necessary to tend to the illness, so soaking the affected foot three or four times daily, keeping it clean and dry, wearing sandals or comfortable shoes, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help to manage the issue. 

You shouldn’t use over-the-counter medications for ingrown toenails as they only target pain, place cotton in the nail, repeatedly trim around the border, or cut a notch in the nail. Seek medical attention if the problem doesn’t improve in three to four days or develops an infection.

Ingrown toenails don't heal by themselves, but basic homecare can often manage minor problems. If the problem worsens, make an appointment with Drs. Driver, Beede, Jaryga, and their staff at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists.