When Ingrown Toenails Become Something to Worry About

ingrown toenail

Some 20% of people who see a doctor for foot issues are dealing with an ingrown toenail, according to federal statistics. An ingrown toenail can be annoying, painful and a nuisance you simply want to be rid of, but in most cases it’s a harmless condition that can be treated easily.

Usually you can take care of the ingrown toenail by yourself using simple home remedies and over-the-counter medications, but in some cases, complications may require the care of an expert podiatrist, like Gary M. Kazmer, DPM, at his three Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers here in Illinois.

Obvious signs of an ingrown toenail

It’s usually the pain and tenderness of your toe around your nail that tells you something is wrong. An ingrown toenail usually develops in your big toe, and when you look at the nail, you’ll notice:

If you spot these symptoms, you should book an appointment with Dr. Kazmer to establish the causes of the ingrown toenail, and to ensure you get the right treatment for it.

In some cases, the ingrown toenail can cause an infection, a serious problem that needs urgent medical care. Symptoms of this include:

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, make sure you contact Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers immediately for an appointment to stop the infection from spreading and prevent other potential complications from developing.

Timely treatment prevents bigger problems, like a bone infection

It can be hard to ignore a painful toe, especially when you have to squeeze your feet into shoes that are too tight, reminding you with each step that you have a problem. But even if you can tolerate the discomfort, an infection is no minor concern and can happen when that ingrown toenail is left untreated for too long.

You have a type of bacteria living on your skin all the time called Staphylococcus aureus. Normally this doesn’t cause any problems, but when the skin around your toe gets compromised, the bacteria can penetrate the skin, soft tissues and even into the bone.

An infection in your toenail can cause open sores and ulcers, and restrict blood flow to the toe, but it can also lead to an infection of the bone itself. A bone infection, osteomyelitis, can cause some very serious symptoms including fatigue, fever and nausea, while damaging the bone enough to risk permanent loss of movement.

If the infection goes untreated for too long, sepsis can develop, possibly leading to amputation and other life-changing consequences.

Who has higher risks of complications from ingrown toenails?

If you have diabetes, poor circulation or neuropathy of the feet causing numbness, you may be at greater risk of an infected ingrown toenail. That’s because you’re less likely to be able to feel the pain and discomfort caused by the ingrown toenail until its later stages, if even then. In fact, you might not be aware that there’s an infection until you spot the signs like bleeding, pus and swelling.

The good news is that there are a range of treatments available for all stages of an ingrown toenail, offered with the expertise you’d expect from Dr. Kazmer. With over 24 years’ experience behind him, this board-certified podiatrist will examine your feet, make a personalized recommendation for treating your ingrown toenail, and guide you through any preventive measures to stop the condition from happening again.


To book your consultation with Dr. Kazmer today, simply book online for your choice of the Barrington, Chicago or Elgin office.

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