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Mitchell Wachtel D.P.M.

Red, Swollen Toenails: A Common Hurt in Running

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The popular Nike empire, which encourages athletes of all kinds once quoted, “The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. And you don’t have to listen.” While there is truth in that saying, it is also true that if you have a foot injury, it is best to listen. It is common for runners to get swollen and infected ingrown nails. They are usually due to trauma from the toes rubbing against the inside of shoes or wearing shoes that do not fit properly. An ingrown nail develops when the toenail starts to curve and grows into the surrounding skin tissue. They typically cause pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes bleeding.  If you have an ingrown nail without infection you will probably see redness but no drainage and pain at the site.  With an infection you will the above symptoms along with a yellowish or bloody draining and an odor could be present.

Prevent Toe Pain while RunningIf you do a lot of running and notice this problem it is recommended that you take a temporary break to give time for the nail problem to heal. We encourage you to visit our podiatric office so we can assess whether you have an infection or not. There are a few self-care measures you can try at home that will help clear up minor cases but when they progress to being painful, infected and disruptive to your daily activities, you may need more aggressive treatment. In some cases, the affected toe is numbed with anesthetic and part or the whole ingrown nail is removed.  If there is an infection we may prescribe an appropriate antibiotic, take a culture of the area to find out what the bacteria is and provide you with an at home soaking program that will be done daily until the problem in your toe is resolved.   

An ingrown toenail problem can progress over time and turn into a serious injury without timely or appropriate treatment. This is an especially important warning for those with diabetes. Don’t allow your running routine to be on hold any longer than in needs to be – contact Mitchell J. Wachtel DPM for treatment today. We have several locations around Massachusetts to serve you including North Andover, Lowell, and Haverhill. Call us today at (978) 794-8406 for an appointment.

Photo Credit: mimica via rgbstock.com

Dr. Mitchell Wachtel
Dr. Mitchell Wachtel is a North Andover podiatrist who specializes in the treatment of the feet and ankles.
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