In any serious long-term emergency, we probably would not have motor vehicles available. This would mean a lot more walking even if we are bugging in. This will lead to foot problems that a lot of us may never have had to deal with. Things like corns, bunions and ingrown toenails. Fifty years ago, I can remember my grandparents complaining about these conditions. In recent years, you never hear them mentioned much. With all the modern means of transportation we don’t walk as much as we used too. If we develop a foot problem, we just go to the doctor and get them taken care of.
The particular problem I want to discuss today is ingrown toenails. We will write about bunions and corns in another post. Ingrown toe nails have affected me in the past and they can be painful. An ingrown toenail is a common condition in which the corner or side of one of your toenails grows into the soft flesh of that toe. The result is pain, redness, swelling and, sometimes, an infection.
They can be caused by a number of different things. A big one is cutting your toenail too short or rounding the edge of the nail which can cause it to grow into the skin. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can also cause an ingrown toenail. Shoes that are too tight can press the nail into the toe and cause it to grow into the skin.
Early in the course of an ingrown toenail, the end of the toe becomes reddened and painful with mild swelling. If untreated extra skin and tissue will grow around the sharp point of the nail. A yellowish drainage may begin. This may be the beginnings of an infection.
When to Seek Medical Care
Anytime an ingrown toenail has developed into an infection, signs will include drainage, a fever, lighter skin surrounded by red skin, or worsening pain and swelling, if possible see a doctor.
Self-Care at Home
- Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes two or three times a day in warm water. Soaking reduces swelling and relieves tenderness. Epson salts will help.
- Place cotton or dental floss under your toenail. Put fresh bits of cotton or waxed dental floss under the ingrown edge after each soaking. This will help the nail eventually grow above the skin edge. Change the cotton or the floss daily until the pain and redness subside.
- Use a topical antibiotic. Apply an antibiotic ointment and bandage the tender area.
- I have cut them out on my own feet by using a small pair of scissors to trim the edges of the nail away from the sore area. You then need to keep the toenail trimmed away from this area. A small pair of scissors or nail clippers designed for ingrown toes nails and a file should be in your bug out kit if you or anyone in your group is affected by this condition. Ingrown toe nail tool kits are available on the internet.
Prevention of Ingrown Toenails
- The best method of prevention is careful clipping of the toenails. Toenails should be clipped straight across — taking care to keep the end longer than the skin edge. This prevents the corners from digging into the skin. They should not be rounded or cut too short.
- Wear well-fitting shoes.
- Keep the feet clean and dry.
Just remember that the best treatment is prevention.