Ingrown Toenail Specialist

Lincoln Park Podiatry

Foot and Ankle Surgeon located in Lincoln Park | Lakeview, Chicago, IL

Ingrown toenails are common, and may eventually resolve on their own. But a persistently ingrown toenail can cause significant pain and infection that may require care by a foot specialist (podiatrist). Dr. Michael Williams is a skilled podiatrist who can treat your current ingrown toenail and help prevent it from coming back. He leads the talented staff at Lincoln Park Podiatry and has offices in the Chicago communities of Lincoln Park and Lakeview. Call Lincoln Park Podiatry today for an appointment or use his convenient, 24/7 online scheduling service.

Ingrown Toenail Q & A

What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a usually painful problem that occurs when the skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail. Sometimes the nail itself grows into the skin. Ingrown toenails typically occur on the big toe (hallux).

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:

  • Pain along one or both sides of your toenail
  • Redness and swelling around the nail
  • Drainage, warmth, and other signs of infection in the surrounding tissue

Complications from an ingrown toenail can be significant if you have diabetes. Poor blood flow and nerve damage associated with diabetes can increase your risk of infection from even a seemingly minor issue like an ingrown nail. Anyone with an untreated or undetected ingrown toenail, however, can develop a dangerous infection in the underlying bone (osteomyelitis).

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails stem from a variety of causes, including:

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight or have a narrow toe box that squeezes the toes together
  • Improper trimming of your toenails 
  • Injuries sustained during an accident or even a bad pedicure
  • Naturally curved toenails that grow downward or are actually too large for your toes

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

One common cause of ingrown toenails is improper trimming. You can prevent this by cutting your toenails straight across rather than curving them to match the shape of your toe. Avoid trimming your nails too short as well by keeping them even with the tips of your toes. Properly fitted shoes that allow your toes to spread apart naturally also help prevent ingrown toenails.

What is the treatment for an ingrown toenail?

Conservative treatment measures that Dr. Williams may recommend include:

  • Soaking your feet in warm water to relieve inflammation and discomfort
  • Gently tucking cotton or gauze under your nail after soaking to lift the ingrown edge away from the skin
  • Applying topical antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection
  • Medication such as ibuprofen to help relieve inflammation and pain

If you repeatedly have problems with ingrown toenails, your doctor may suggest a very simple, permanent, in-office procedure to remove a small side section of the nail. This eliminates the pain and pressure from the ingrowing while maintaining the cosmetic appearance of the toenail.