Leaving an ingrown toenail untreated can lead to various complications and discomfort. Here are some potential consequences of neglecting an ingrown toenail:
Increased Pain: Ingrown toenails can cause significant pain, especially when pressure is applied to the affected area. As the nail grows into the surrounding skin, it can lead to inflammation and tenderness.
Infection: One of the most concerning risks of an ingrown toenail is infection. When the nail pierces the skin, bacteria can enter the wound, leading to an infected area. Symptoms of infection may include increased pain, redness, swelling, warmth, and the presence of pus.
Abscess Formation: In severe cases of infection, an abscess (a collection of pus) can form in the surrounding tissue, causing more pain and discomfort.
Nail Deformation: If an ingrown toenail is left untreated over an extended period, the continuous pressure and inflammation can cause the nail to grow irregularly or become thicker.
Chronic Condition: Ignoring the issue may result in chronic ingrown toenails, leading to a cycle of recurring pain and infection.
Difficulty Walking: Severe ingrown toenails can make it challenging to walk comfortably, affecting your overall mobility.
Spreading Infection: If the infection worsens, it can spread to other areas of the foot or even to other toes.
To prevent these complications, it’s essential to address an ingrown toenail as soon as possible. If the ingrown toenail is minor and not infected, you can try soaking your foot in warm, soapy water and gently lifting the edge of the nail away from the skin. However, for more severe cases, or if you suspect an infection, it’s crucial to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional or a podiatrist. They can provide proper treatment, such as nail trimming, antibiotics for infections, or, in severe cases, surgical procedures to remove the ingrown portion of the nail.