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From Soaking to Surgery: Treatment Options for Urgent Care of Ingrown Toenails

Key Points

  • Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain and potential infection.
  • Urgent care clinics offer prompt and comprehensive treatment options, including pain management, nail removal, and home remedies for temporary relief.
  • Follow-up care and preventive measures can help avoid future ingrown toenails.

An ingrown toenail is a condition that occurs when the edge of your toenail grows into the surrounding skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. This often causes discomfort and in some cases can even cause an infection. The Cleveland Clinic notes that ingrown toenails are a common problem, and can be quite painful and may require medical attention. Although ingrown toenails are considered common, there are steps you can take to prevent them from occurring.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following tips for helping prevent ingrown toenails:

  • Proper nail-trimming techniques
  • Wearing well-fitting shoes

If you do develop an ingrown toenail, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent it. Prompt care will help alleviate your discomfort and prevent the condition from worsening, according to the Mayo Clinic. Urgent care clinics may be a great place to receive comprehensive care for ingrown toenails—including diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care. Below you’ll find more details about how to identify an ingrown toenail, and when to seek medical care if you have one.

Key Points

  • Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain and potential infection.
  • Urgent care clinics offer prompt and comprehensive treatment options, including pain management, nail removal, and home remedies for temporary relief.
  • Follow-up care and preventive measures can help avoid future ingrown toenails.

An ingrown toenail is a condition that occurs when the edge of your toenail grows into the surrounding skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. This often causes discomfort and in some cases can even cause an infection. The Cleveland Clinic notes that ingrown toenails are a common problem, and can be quite painful and may require medical attention. Although ingrown toenails are considered common, there are steps you can take to prevent them from occurring.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following tips for helping prevent ingrown toenails:

  • Proper nail-trimming techniques
  • Wearing well-fitting shoes

If you do develop an ingrown toenail, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent it. Prompt care will help alleviate your discomfort and prevent the condition from worsening, according to the Mayo Clinic. Urgent care clinics may be a great place to receive comprehensive care for ingrown toenails—including diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care. Below you’ll find more details about how to identify an ingrown toenail, and when to seek medical care if you have one.

Symptoms of Ingrown Toenail

The Mayo Clinic notes that the big toe is most likely to be affected by an ingrown nail, however, ingrown toenails can happen on any toe. They also list the most common symptoms as:

  • Pain or tenderness around one or both sides of a toe
  • Swelling or redness

The pain associated with ingrown toenails can range from mild to severe and can make it difficult to wear shoes or walk normally, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Additionally, the skin around the ingrown toenail may become inflamed and feel warm or tender to the touch.

If the ingrown toenail is left untreated, it can become infected according to the Mayo Clinic. Signs of infection include increased pain, redness, and swelling around the toe. You may also notice pus or drainage coming from the affected area. If you notice any signs of infection, it's important to get medical attention right away.

Causes of Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some of the most common causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Improper nail trimming (like cutting your nails too short)
  • Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes
  • Injury to the toe or nailbed

If you trim your toenails too short or round the edges, you increase the likelihood of the nail growing into the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. To avoid this, make sure to trim or file your nails straight across and leave a little bit of white at the end. Additionally, tight shoes are another culprit causing ingrown toenails, because they can put undue pressure on the toes and cause your toenails to grow into the skin.

Risk Factors for Developing Ingrown Toenails

There are some things that can increase your risk of developing an ingrown toenail according to the Cleveland Clinic. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Frequently sweaty or wet feet inside your shoe
  • Naturally curved toenails

Urgent Care Treatment Options for Ingrown Toenails

If you are experiencing symptoms of an ingrown toenail, getting treatment is the only way to get relief, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can find treatment for ingrown toenails at any of the following medical facilities:

  • Podiatrists
  • Primary care clinics
  • Urgent care clinics

There are several options available for treating ingrown toenails, starting with pain management. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common pain management options for ingrown toenails include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Local anesthesia (often used during nail removal according to the Mayo Clinic)
  • Soaking the affected foot in warm water
  • Lifting the affected nail (this may need to be done by a medical professional according to the Mayo Clinic)

In some cases, an ingrown toenail can become infected, which may cause more pain and discomfort. In these cases, antibiotics are usually necessary to help cure the infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to pain management, you will need treatment to remove the ingrown piece of nail, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Partial Nail Removal

The Mayo Clinic notes that in some cases a portion of the nail may need to be removed to treat an ingrown toenail. This procedure is typically done in the doctor's office with local anesthetics.

If the ingrown toenail is severe or recurrent, your doctor may recommend complete nail removal. If the ingrown toenail is mild, your doctor may recommend partial nail removal, which involves removing only the small part of the nail that is ingrown.

Home Remedies for Temporary Relief

There are several home remedies that can provide temporary relief from ingrown toenails, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some of these remedies include:

  • Applying a warm compress to the affected area
  • Applying antibiotic ointment to the affected area
  • Wearing comfortable shoes that do not put pressure on the affected toe

The Mayo Clinic recommends using home remedies for temporary relief until you can get treatment from a medical professional. With proper treatment, you can prevent further complications (like infection) and get back to your daily activities quicker.

Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Using Proper Nail Trimming Techniques

There are some steps you can take to prevent ingrown toenails, according to the Mayo Clinic. First, it is important to trim your nails properly—cut your nails straight across and avoid rounding the corners. This will help prevent the nail from growing into the skin. The Mayo Clinic also recommends using sharp nail clippers or scissors to avoid tearing or splitting the nail. If you have difficulty reaching your toes, consider using a mirror or asking for assistance.

Wearing Comfortable Shoes

Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes can put pressure on your toes and increase the risk of ingrown toenails, according to the Mayo Clinic. Choose shoes that fit well and have enough room for your toes to move freely. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) also recommends that you avoid high heels or shoes with narrow toes, as they can cause your toes to be cramped.

Avoiding Injuries

Injury to the toe can damage the nail bed and cause the nail to grow into the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. To prevent trauma to your toes, they recommend that you wear protective footwear when participating in activities that may cause injury (such as sports or heavy physical labor). If you do injure your toe, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you see a medical doctor to ensure that your injury properly heals.

When to Seek Urgent Care

If you are experiencing severe pain and swelling in your toe, it may be a sign of a serious condition, like an infection. The Mayo Clinic notes that it is important to seek urgent care right away if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain or swelling - These are symptoms that there is a problem with your toe or toenail.
  • Signs of infection - Warmth, redness, or pus around your toenail may be a sign of an infection.

Diabetic Patients with Ingrown Toenail

If you are diabetic with an ingrown toenail, it is important to seek urgent care immediately. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and reduce blood flow to your feet, according to the Mayo Clinic. This makes it more difficult to heal from infections or injuries. Prolonged or delayed healing can lead to serious infections and even the loss of a toe or foot, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Complications of Ingrown Toenails

Untreated ingrown toenails can lead to complications, according to the AAOS and Mayo Clinic. These complications can range from mild to severe, and will often require medical attention. The Mayo Clinic notes that an abscess and cellulitis are the most severe complications of an ingrown toenail.

An abscess is a localized collection of pus that can form when bacteria enter the skin through a break or cut, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you have an ingrown toenail, the surrounding skin can become inflamed and infected—leading to the formation of an abscess. Symptoms of an abscess include redness, swelling, increased pain, and a pus-filled bump.

Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can spread quickly and cause serious complications if left untreated. If you have an ingrown toenail, the surrounding skin can become infected with bacteria, leading to cellulitis, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of cellulitis are similar to the symptoms of any infection—redness, swelling, warmth, and pain.

If you experience any of these symptoms, the Mayo Clinic stresses that it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. Your urgent care may prescribe antibiotics or drain the abscess to prevent the infection from spreading. They may also recommend a nail or partial nail removal and help you with recommendations to prevent getting an ingrown toenail in the future.

Follow-up Care for Ingrown Toenails

The AAOS notes that it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider to ensure that your toenail is healing properly. They also recommend a few tips for helping the healing process, including:

  • Keeping the area clean and dry - You should always follow the instructions of your healthcare provider, according to the AAOS. They note that your healthcare provider may recommend soaking your foot in warm water and using a gentle soap to clean the area. It is important to avoid using harsh chemicals or scrubbing the area too vigorously, as this can cause further irritation.
  • Monitor your toe for signs of infection - After receiving treatment for an ingrown toenail, it is important to monitor the area for signs of infection, according to the AAOS. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge from the affected area. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

In addition to following up with your healthcare provider and keeping the area clean and dry, the AAOS recommends that you wear comfortable shoes that do not put pressure on the affected toe. Your healthcare provider may also recommend using a cushion of gauze in your shoe.

Insurance Coverage for Ingrown Toenails

Many insurance plans cover urgent care visits. However, it is important to check with your insurance provider to understand your specific coverage and any potential out-of-pocket expenses.

It is also important to note that insurance coverage may vary depending on the urgent care provider you visit. If you visit an in-network provider, you may be able to receive a higher level of coverage than if you visit an out-of-network provider.

Your insurance plan may require you to pay a deductible or co-pay for urgent care treatment for your ingrown toenail. You can check with your insurance provider to understand your plan's specific requirements before you go to your appointment. You can also check with your urgent care clinic about discounted services and fees based on a sliding scale if you are underinsured or uninsured.

Steps to Prevent Future Ingrown Toenails

The steps to prevent ingrown toenails from occurring in the future are outlined by the Mayo Clinic and AAOS. They include:

  • Trimming your toenails straight across, rather than rounding the corners.
  • Wearing shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support.
  • Keeping your feet clean and dry.
  • If you have a job that requires you to stand for long periods of time, take frequent breaks and stretch your feet and toes.

Remember that ingrown toenails can lead to infection and other complications, so it is important to seek urgent care if you are experiencing any symptoms of one. Urgent care clinics are a fast and cost-effective way to get treatment for an ingrown toenail. You can use Solv to find an urgent care clinic near you.



Frequently asked questions

  • What is an ingrown toenail and what causes it?

    An ingrown toenail is a condition that occurs when the edge of your toenail grows into the surrounding skin. This can cause discomfort and in some cases, an infection. Common causes of ingrown toenails include improper nail trimming, such as cutting your nails too short, wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, or injury to the toe or nail bed.
  • What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?

    Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain or tenderness around one or both sides of a toe, swelling or redness. The pain can range from mild to severe and can make it difficult to wear shoes or walk normally. If left untreated, it can become infected, leading to increased pain, redness, and swelling around the toe, and possible pus or drainage from the affected area.
  • How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

    There are several steps you can take to prevent ingrown toenails. These include using proper nail-trimming techniques, such as cutting your nails straight across and avoiding rounding the corners, and wearing well-fitting shoes. It's also important to avoid injuring your toes, for example by wearing protective footwear during activities that may cause injury.
  • What should I do if I develop an ingrown toenail?

    If you develop an ingrown toenail, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from worsening. Prompt care will help alleviate your discomfort and prevent further complications. Urgent care clinics can provide comprehensive care for ingrown toenails, including diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.
  • What are the treatment options for an ingrown toenail?

    Treatment options for an ingrown toenail include pain management, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription pain relievers, local anesthesia, and soaking the affected foot in warm water. If the ingrown toenail has become infected, antibiotics may be necessary. In some cases, a portion of the nail may need to be removed.
  • Are there any home remedies for temporary relief from an ingrown toenail?

    Yes, there are several home remedies that can provide temporary relief from ingrown toenails. These include applying a warm compress to the affected area, applying antibiotic ointment, and wearing comfortable shoes that do not put pressure on the affected toe. However, these remedies should only be used for temporary relief until you can get treatment from a medical professional.
  • When should I seek urgent care for an ingrown toenail?

    You should seek urgent care right away if you are experiencing severe pain or swelling in your toe, or if you notice signs of infection such as warmth, redness, or pus around your toenail. This is particularly important if you are diabetic, as diabetes can cause nerve damage and reduce blood flow to your feet, making it more difficult to heal from infections or injuries.
  • Will my insurance cover the treatment for an ingrown toenail?

    Many insurance plans do cover urgent care visits, but it's important to check with your insurance provider to understand your specific coverage and any potential out-of-pocket expenses. Coverage may vary depending on the urgent care provider you visit.
Sources

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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