Home remedies for ingrown nails

Photo by robertprzybysz/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by robertprzybysz/iStock / Getty Images

I have to admit, I am a huge fan of home remedies because I don't always have the luxury of seeing a professional and mostly because I don't want to. (I'm human too!) I know many of you feel the same, which is why I wanted to share with you some insight on ingrown nails, things you can do at home and when you should definitely see a specialist. 

PREVENTION
It is better to prevent than to cure. Prevent ingrown nails by cutting the nail straight and rounding the sharp corners with a nail file.

A few patients have told me they read somewhere that creating a "V" notch would help. I'll save you the trouble and tell you it does not. Straight is great.

Also, too much digging into the corners will cause the skin to thicken and introduce bacteria so you may not want to do that. 

Poorly fitted shoes with narrow toe boxes can add pressure on the nail. Choose wider shoes or sandals if irritation is occurring. 

HOWEVER
If you are developing an ingrown nail, simple things that can be done at home include:
1. Epsom salt soaks - this will relieve the inflammation. Take a basin of warm water, add 1/2 c Epsom salts, soak for 10-15 minutes. This will soften the nail and you can use a sharp ended filer to gingerly lift the nail corner.
2. Topical ointments - such as antibiotic ointment will also help soften the nail

SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP
Too often I see antibiotics prescribed erroneously. An ingrown nail that presses into the skin, maybe even cutting it, is best treated by removing the irritation. You'll want a professional to do this for you to avoid worsening infections. I've removed a lot of ingrown nails without prescribing any antibiotics because the source has been removed, saving you the inconvenience of antibiotic side effects, possible resistance and mostly saving you time from pain. Sometimes antibiotics are needed, most times they are not. Let a professional help you with that.

If you have chronic ingrown nails and want it to be removed permanently, podiatrists can help with that. I will follow up on next week's blog on what you can expect during a nail avulsion/matrixectomy procedure. 
 

If you would like to make request an appointment with Dr. Tea, click on the button below.

August is Back to School Shoe Shopping

Iconsmind-Outline-Running-Shoes.ico

What an exciting time it is going back to school and mostly, back to school shopping. Here are some pointers on what to look for when buying new shoes:

1. Not all shoe sizes are the same! For example, a size 8 from one company may fit differently from another. Make sure the length of the shoe fits the longest part of your foot. For some, it may correlate with the big toe and some others the second toe will be longer. Make sure there is room for every toe and wide enough to prevent blisters.

2. Cheap shoes may cost you in the long run. While it may be tempting to go for the budget friendly shoes, sometimes these are constructed very cheaply and can cause unnecessary foot pain. Make sure the shoe has some cushion inside and does not easily fold in half. Cheaper shoes may not last as long as higher quality shoes. The investment is worth it.

3. Consider orthotics or shoe inserts. If you are suffering from foot pain, orthotics may help provide better support and reduce the pressure on your feet. Keep in mind, some orthotics will not fit all types of shoes and vice versa.

Learn more by visiting your local foot and ankle specialist who may be able to recommend custom orthotics in qualified patients. 

Patient Diagnosed with Diabetes, Takes Control

A cheesy title, I agree. But I wanted to share this story because it is a bit of an inspiration that I know many of you, including myself, appreciate hearing from time to time. 

As you know, my specialty is foot and ankle problems. When I see a problem, I like to fix it. When there is a broken ankle, I want to fix it. When I see a wound, I want to heal it. This is my area of expertise. Having 10 years of experience secured, I am able to process problems fast. Sometimes too fast. But I admit, I still have human errors.

A young kind lady presented to me with complaints of heel pain. She was recently diagnosed with diabetes and admits knowing she is overweight. She was very scared of this diagnosis so decided to be proactive and take classes at the gym. She had never worked out much before but had seen the consequences of diabetes since it runs in her family. She is terrified of losing her legs from the complications of diabetes. She tells me she is working out a lot and is worried that her heel pain won't go away and that it might stop her from losing weight. I empathized. 

Of course, in my mind, I'm thinking about an algorithm. Here's a problem, here's how to fix it. I started going through the routine of educating her on plantar fasciitis and how it can be aggravated by being overweight, having a certain foot type, change in level of activity, etc. She started silently crying so I stopped my babbling and asked her why is she so sad?

To me, there's a problem, here's how to fix it. To her, it's me telling her to stop activities meaning she may not be able to lose the weight and also meaning she is not in control of her health. My human error was not realizing what I said could mean several different things to patients. 

She tells me, "I don't want to stop working out, I am doing so well right now and losing weight. It makes me feel good to go to class and dance."

I felt bad for making her feel like she had to give up something that makes her feel good about herself, working out. I reassured her stopping does not mean quitting, it's really just a short break and your body is telling you, please take a break! If you have foot pain, you can't ignore it. You'll start to walk differently to compensate and that can throw your whole body off, you may even hurt other parts of your body. 

I gave her a treatment plan, created custom orthotics, and she is back on track to staying healthy. She recently just told me, "Dr. Tea, I feel amazing. I've lost 15 pounds. My self confidence is up, I feel good about myself, I am really happy and hope my friends will join me to being healthier."

Sound like something from a commercial doesn't it? Except I don't have anything to sell. Just a story that I hope inspires you that something so simple like walking that extra mile, taking a fitness class, eating better, and practicing these things on a day to day basis, may be just enough to change your life. Small actions, big rewards.