Toenails to some are a vehicle for creativity. Money is spent for pedicures and of course various colors are applied to achieve that perfect look. As the saying goes,”man plans and God laughs” so goes it with toenails. Just when your planned that week long vacation to Hawaii, your diet is finally showing some real effects and spent your last dollar for that sexy bikini, you feel this funny feeling in your great toe. Within hours, the toe is red, swollen and so painful. The newly applied varnish seems dwarfed by the angry red skin nearby.

What you probably have is an ingrown toenail. This condition is fairly common and unfortunately occurs mainly in the big toe, which makes it even more painful. The edge of the nail, normally a comfortable few millimeters from the skin has taken a nosedive under the skin. The nail brings with it of course bacteria or fungus and in your case bits of nail varnish, all of which make for some nasty infection. Usually, one side of the nail rather than both sides is involved. The pain can be quite severe, as there are many nerves in this area.

The condition can be often treated initially with Epsom salt warm water soaks, elevation of the involved foot and rest. Ibuprofen helps with the pain and inflammation as well. If nothing works, or if  the toe becomes more inflamed, y0u should see your doctor. Antibiotics can be prescribed and in more severe cases, either part or all of the nail can be removed ( and with it you can kiss goodbye that relaxing Hawaii trip). Sometimes the skin around the nail is overgrown and may need to be cut back or cauterized. This is believe it or not a fairly simple procedure that most doctors can perform.  The nail will grow back in a month or two.

You can often prevent ingrown toenails by cutting your nails straight rather than curved and avoiding too many applications of nail polish.

To summarize, if you and your beautiful toenails want to be seen at some tropical beach, be careful how you cut your nails and pray that the nail grows where it should.