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This is everything you need to know about treating ingrown toenails

And preventing them in the first place...

Feet are fairly repellent at the best of times (though they do a wonderful job of getting us from a to b). Throw in an infected or ingrown toenail and bleurghhhh. Not good.

To avoid such a situation, this is what you need to know about what causes ingrown toenails (so you can prevent them in the first place) and what to do if a pesky one pops up uninvited. And – lucky you – we've spared you from some of the really grim pics that come up when you Google "ingrown toenail". *Shudders*

What causes an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails happen when the edge of your nail grows into, rather than over, the surrounding skin. It tends to affect toes worse than fingers and big toes are generally the worst affected.

Some of the causes include:

  • Injuring or stubbing your toe
  • Wearing overly tight shoes that crowd your feet
  • Cutting your nails too short
  • Cutting your nail at an angle

So, if you do any of the above, quit it.

How do you know if you have an ingrown toenail?

Mild symptoms can include swelling, tenderness, hardness and low-level pain, but if it becomes infected, you may experience redness, throbbing pain, pus coming coming out of your toe and you may even feel hot and shivery.

Should you cut an ingrown toenail?

If it's not too severe, you may find that you can coax the nail away from the skin and cut it, but the NHS recommends against doing this as you may end up making things worse and causing an infection.

Will an ingrown toenail heal itself?

Though in some cases an ingrown toenail can grow out on their own, it's not really advised and it's important to keep an eye on it and make sure your symptoms aren't getting any worse.

If left untreated, ingrown toenails can become infected and spread to the underlying bone. Unsurprisingly, you're going to want to avoid this.

How do you fix an ingrown toenail?

First things first, you can try and treat it yourself at home. The NHS recommends soaking your foot in warm water 3-4 times a day for several days to soften the skin around your toe and stop the nail from growing into it. If you do this, make sure you keep your foot dry for the rest of the day. Ease off on the pressure and keep things breathable by wearing wide, comfortable shoes or sandals. And if it's causing you pain, take some paracetamol or ibuprofen.

If after a few days these steps haven't helped, you'll need to head to a professional. Your GP will be able to prescribe antibiotics if you have an infection and can refer you to a podiatrist if you need further measures. A podiatrist will be able to cut away part of the nail or the whole nail depending on the severity. But don't worry, they'll numb the area with a local anaesthetic first.

This article originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK

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