What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the skin, causing redness, swelling, and pain. While this can happen to any toenail, it more commonly affects the big toe. While a minor ingrown toenail for an otherwise healthy individual may not be a cause for concern, some situations warrant turning to a podiatrist for care.
When should I see a podiatrist?
If you notice any of these signs of an infected ingrown toenail it’s time to visit a foot doctor:
- Increased pain, swelling, or redness
- Skin that’s hard to the touch
- Pus or drainage coming from the nail
Can you prevent ingrown toenails?
There are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing an ingrown toenail. Some of these steps include:
- Not picking, pulling, or tearing your toenails (especially torn edges)
- Making sure that you are trimming your nails straight across (never curved) and that you keep them level with the tips of your toes
- Wearing shoes that have a large toe box and don’t bunch up your toes (shoes with a pointed toe will put too much pressure on the toenails)
- Wearing the appropriate footwear for certain activities, such as construction work or sports, to prevent injuries
How to Treat Sprained Ankles
Most minor sprains can be properly managed through simple at-home treatment and care. Conservative treatment is typically the first line of defense against minor ankle and foot problems, including minor sprains. While more moderate to severe sprains will require more aggressive attention and treatment options, the RICE method is ideal for most ankle sprains. Here’s what RICE stands for:
No matter the severity of your sprain, your podiatrist will be the first to tell you to stay off the ankle and to rest as much as possible to give the ankle time to heal. If the sprain is more moderate or severe, your podiatrist may recommend wearing a protective boot or using crutches to help stabilize the foot and ankle and take pressure off the ankle while standing or walking.
Especially for the first 72 hours after an ankle injury, it’s a good idea to use ice as much as possible to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply to the ankle for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can continue to do this every few hours throughout the day.
Your podiatrist can also show you the proper way to wrap and bandage your ankle, which not only promotes proper circulation and blood flow to the area to aid in healing but also can provide additional support and stabilization for the ankle. It’s important to know how to properly wrap your ankle to make sure it’s providing the very best support and your podiatrist can easily show you how.
Whenever you at resting (which should be most of the day!), it’s a good idea to prop your injured ankle up above your heart to reduce inflammation and bruising. You should elevate your ankle for at least a couple of hours each day!
If you are in pain, over-the-counter NSAID pain relievers can be great for reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation. For more severe sprains, your podiatrist may prescribe something stronger. Patients with more moderate-to-severe sprains may require physical therapy and rehabilitation to help rebuild and strengthen the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the ankle.
Knowing you have a proper treatment plan in place can provide you with the peace of mind you need to know that your ankle will heal properly. Don’t ignore any foot or ankle injuries. Turn to your podiatrist right away for sprained ankles, or any other problems you may be facing.
While we know that there are a lot of reasons why someone might have dry, cracked feet including being on your feet all day, long-distance running or winter weather, your thyroid might also be playing a role. Many people with hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, complain of dry, cracked skin on the soles of their feet, particularly the heels. You may also notice that you get deep, painful fissures or that your skin seems almost leathery in thickness and appearance. This could be a sign to have your thyroid checked.
Since your thyroid is responsible for your metabolism it’s not too surprising that an underactive thyroid slows the metabolism, which in turn causes the body’s temperature to drop. This is why you notice that your feet and hands always seem to be cold to the touch. You may notice that this problem is made worse during cold weather. Some people with hypothyroidism deal with a condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, in which the feet and hands are so cold that they go numb and turn blue or white.
Again, there are a lot of things that can lead to swollen feet; however, if you notice swelling in your feet and ankles rather regularly then you may want to have your thyroid checked. Since people with hypothyroidism are also prone to developing tarsal tunnel syndrome, which can lead to permanent nerve damage if left untreated, you must have a podiatrist you can turn to for regular care if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder.
Many people can easily manage their bunion symptoms and slow the progression of this common foot deformity through simple lifestyle changes. There are several approaches you can take to reduce bunion pain including,
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose excess weight, which can take pressure off the feet
- Wear shoes that don’t put pressure on the bunion, that provide ample support, and that have lots of room for your toes
- Look for shoes that have a low heel (high heels can make bunions worse)
- Apply a gel or protective pad to the bunion before putting on shoes
- Talk to your podiatrist about the benefits of custom orthotics (aka shoe inserts) and how they could take pressure off the bunion when standing or in motion
- Take pain relievers, whether over-the-counter or prescribed by your doctor
- Warm or cold therapy such as warm soaks or applying ice can also improve swelling, inflammation, and pain (some people prefer the heat to the cold and vice versa; it’s a matter of preference. Try both and see what works best for you!)
- Talk with your podiatrist to see if a night splint could ease morning stiffness and pain
Of course, there are certain scenarios in which a podiatrist may recommend getting surgery to correct the bunion. Here’s when you may want to consider getting surgery,
- You are in significant and chronic pain
- Your bunion is severely enlarged, and the big toe is crossing over the other toes
- Your activities are limited due to your bunion
- Your bunion pain persists for more than a year
- Nonsurgical methods aren’t completely controlling your bunion pain
- You are developing other foot problems such as bursitis or hammertoes due to your bunion
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