What do I do about this ingrown toenail?
May 4, 2016 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I read the top search results for ingrown toenails, but mine is a little different.

Apparently there's a horizontal valley in the middle of my toe. I learned this recently when I had my first toenail fungal infection and the whole toenail came off. The fungal infection is gone but the bottom half of my toenail now seems to be growing down into the skin of my toe at the fold/valley.

It's not inflamed or infected and I'd like to keep it that way. It does hurt a little if it gets stepped on which, in addition to how it appears to be growing, is why I think it's growing the wrong way.

How do I fix it and prevent it from getting worse? I can go to the doctor but I was hoping there might be some collective wisdom on this topic.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
As someone who suffered through many ingrown toenails, the wisdom I can share is go to the podiatrist. Waiting and trying to fix it myself just made it worse.
posted by griphus at 12:41 PM on May 4, 2016 [7 favorites]

I agree with griphus. I've had two removed, both my big toenails now look like half toenails. Each time I waited until I could hardly walk and just brushing my toe past anything put me in agony. Don't be like me, go see a podiatrist.
posted by bondcliff at 12:46 PM on May 4, 2016

The collective wisdom is go see a podiatrist.

Ingrown toenails run in my family THANK GOD not me, but seriously every single other person is plagued by them. My brother has to go in about once a year and get his nail bed cauterized because the stupid toenail just grows in ten kinds of fucked up. Not his fault. That's just how his toes do.

Definitely go. You'll be so much happier.
posted by phunniemee at 12:52 PM on May 4, 2016

I used to have ingrown toenails on my big toes all the time when I was a kid. My dad would cut them out with barber shears. (Yeah, this was exactly as painful as it sounds. Eventually he discovered cuticle nippers and started using these. This was a vast improvement.) When I turned 16 he finally took me to the podiatrist, who gave me some local anesthetic, cut out the problematic parts of the nails, and cauterized the roots with a bit of acid so they wouldn't grow back.

Not a single ingrown nail since.

Go thou and do likewise. Now.
posted by kindall at 12:52 PM on May 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yep, that's podiatrist time. My dad's big toenails fall off yearly due to fungus and it's gross as fuck. (I'm also very prone to ingrown toenails so I try to keep mine trimmed and tidy.) Definitely go to the professionals. They can see it better than you can and have better tools.
posted by sperose at 1:00 PM on May 4, 2016

So one of my big toenails fell off this time last year, and when it was growing back, looked almost exactly like yours. As it grew, it eventually started looking normal and no longer feeling tender.

So I mean, maybe it would be smartest to see a podiatrist, but your toe doesn't make me immediately think that you're having some kind of foot emergency.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:10 PM on May 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

I was about to suggest some strategies that don't involve the podiatrist in case that is a prohibitive expense, but looking at that picture, they wouldn't do you any good anyway (my ingrown toenail was along the sides of the toe and could be managed with cuticle nippers, though I ultimately went to the podiatrist to get the thing taken care of more or less permanently later). Nthing that the podiatrist is probably your best option here.
posted by Aleyn at 1:10 PM on May 4, 2016

I have a doctor who is great about suggesting simple home treatments for common problems (well, not necessarily simple, but things I can take care of myself without prescriptions or other doctors), but when I asked him about my ingrown toe-nail, he told me to see a podiatrist.
posted by ubiquity at 1:43 PM on May 4, 2016

I've lost a couple of toenails over the years, and as schroedingersgirl says, they look pretty much like that when they grow back. Feel free to have a podiatrist look at it, but unless it hurts or is otherwise uncomfortable there is no rush. (My first thought when I saw the picture was "Did that toenail come off accidentally or was it removed intentionally?")
posted by TedW at 2:30 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

My son had an ingrown toenail and it took over a year for it to get better. The key thing was soaking it several times a day -- the more, the better -- in warm water with lots of epsom salts. This softens the skin, so the nail can push the skin out of the way as it grows.

It got infected more than once during the time it was healing and he had to take a round of antibiotics (this might have happened twice). His doctor was hoping he could avoid surgery, and it seems to have worked.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:39 PM on May 4, 2016

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