How do I treat nail pain?

Epsom salts added to warm water can be used to help treat an ingrown toenail.

Common causes of nail pain are ill-fitting shoes, ingrown toenails, fungal infections and injuries. All of these problems can often be treated at home with measures such as over-the-counter medications and the right footwear. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to visit a healthcare professional for professional advice and treatment.

Problems Related to Footwear

High heel shoes can cause nail pain.

One of the easiest toenail problems to treat is the pain caused by improper footwear. The shoes you wear can cause pain if the toe cap is too narrow to allow enough room for your feet. Either toe can be affected, but the big toe tends to take the most pressure from shoes that are too tight.

High-heeled shoes often cause this type of pain because the shape of the shoes often includes a narrow toe. Heel height is another factor, and in general, the higher the heel, the more likely the shoe will cause some form of pain. Wearing comfortable low-heeled shoes instead of high-heeled shoes is the best way to reduce nail pain caused by footwear.

Soaking your feet in a vinegar and water solution helps prevent infections.

If the cause of this type of pain is not treated, the problem can get considerably worse and ingrown toenails are a common consequence. In the long run, tight shoes can push the big toe out of alignment, forcing the joint to protrude from the side of the foot and bulge, producing what’s called a bunion. Bunions can be extremely painful, and the most severe ones may require surgery to be treated effectively.

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ingrown toenail

Nail pain caused by foot trauma should be evaluated by a medical professional if symptoms do not improve.

An ingrown toenail typically develops if the big toe nail is cut with a rounded edge. As the nail grows, it becomes embedded in the skin along the side of the nail. Wearing high-heeled shoes can also put pressure on the nails and cause this problem.

To treat an ingrown toenail, soak your foot in a bath of warm water and Epsom salts to soften the skin. After approximately 15 minutes of soaking, dry the toe and gently push the skin away from the nail until it separates from the skin. Apply a small amount of antiseptic ointment to prevent the area from becoming infected. Soaking should be repeated as needed until the nail is long enough to no longer grow into the skin. To prevent the problem from reoccurring, it may help to cut your toenails straight rather than rounded at the ends, and to wear shoes that fit properly.

It’s important to catch ingrown toenails early, before they get too deeply ingrained.

It’s important to catch ingrown toenails early, before they become deeply embedded. If they are ignored for a long time, it will not be possible to treat the problem at home using this method. In these cases, minor surgery involving a local anesthetic is required. In this procedure, the healthcare professional will remove the ingrown part of the nail or, if necessary, the entire nail.

foot and nail fungus

Wearing low heels with rounded toes can help minimize nail pain caused by high heels.

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Nail pain can sometimes be caused by a fungus like Tinea pedis, which causes athlete’s foot. Common symptoms include thick, crumbly nails, pain, and fungal growth between the toes. A mild case of athlete’s foot can be treated by soaking the affected foot in a mixture of 25% vinegar in water. This treatment should be used daily until the fungus is gone, and the feet should be kept as dry as possible.

If this does not eliminate the fungus, over-the-counter oral medications or skin ointments are often effective. In severe cases, prescription medication may be needed. Sometimes a medical professional may prescribe additional antibiotics or other medications for any associated issues.

foot injury

Nail pain caused by an injury, such as a stubbed toe or something dropped on the foot, is usually not a cause for alarm. Keep an eye on the wound for a few days to make sure it’s not serious, and treat the discomfort with over-the-counter medication. If the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse, see a healthcare professional to make sure you don’t have a serious injury, such as a broken toe.

When to get medical advice

Any pain or injury that doesn’t get better, or that is accompanied by an infection, usually requires professional medical attention. Symptoms of infection can include pus, skin that feels warm to the touch, and swelling around the nail. Treatment usually involves a course of oral antibiotics or a skin cream, although this depends on the underlying problem.

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