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Ingrown toe nails: a common winter and summer problem in Chicago, Part 2

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A home remedy to prevent toenail from in-growing

This is Part two of a three-part series on ingrown toe nails. Part one gave an introduction and discussed the causes of ingrown toe nails. Part two discusses the symptoms, the diagnosis and conservative treatment at home. Part three discusses when to see your doctor, what s/he might do, complications and prevention.

Typical symptoms:

  • Local pain in the nail area which increases on pressure
  • Signs of inflammation: redness, swelling and discoloration of the flesh of the toe
  • Formation of a “boil” at or discharge of pus from the site

Diagnosis and tests:

  • In early stage the diagnosis is easy and you doctor can tell you by looking at it and feeling the toe and the nail.
  • If infection has set-in your doctor may need culture and sensitivity test to figure out the types are bugs causing the infection and which antibiotics are needed.
  • If it is severe and bone is involved then you may need X-ray of the toe.
  • If you have general problems as well (e.g. diabetes) you will need work-up and treatment of that condition as well.

Treatment at home:

  • Soak your foot in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes two to three times a day.
  • With a metal nail file remove the debris from the gutter of the nail. If the nail is thick and or curved thin it down with the help of a nail file or nail shaping tool.
  • Use the tip of the nail file. Remove debris from under the edge that is digging into the flesh. Lift this end up from the area and put a small cotton ball or piece of a toothpick (see insert) under this end. Change this cotton ball at least once a day.
  • Let the nail grow beyond the bow of the nail bed. Keep the nail thin and debris free and do not cut the nail into a round shape again.

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