Toenails don’t seem to be a very important part of the body until they become ingrown toenails. Then, the pain and irritation they deliver make it hard to think of anything else. Ingrown toenails are commonly found in senior citizens because they are the group that is most likely to neglect foot care. If family caregivers spot an ingrown toenail when tending to their elderly relative, there are several home remedies they can try before consulting a doctor.
What is an Ingrown Toenail?
Ingrown toenails happen when the edge of the toenail grows downward and penetrates the skin. They are painful and the area reddens and swells up. As the toenail continues to grow, the deeper it pushes inward, causing even more pain. Without treatment, an ingrown toenail can get infected, bleed and ooze. It can significantly limit an elderly person’s ability to walk or even wear shoes.
Certain people are predisposed to ingrown toenails because of the natural shape of their toenail and the way the skin folds around it. However, ingrown toenails are most frequently caused by poor nail and foot care. Seniors have a hard time caring for their toenails, hence their frequency in that population. Family caregivers and elder care aides must pay attention to foot care to help seniors avoid ingrown toenails.
Treating Ingrown Toenails in Seniors
If a family caregiver notices an ingrown toenail on their elderly relative, they can try treating it at home. First, they should soak the foot in a warm bath or basin. Then, they must gently lift the nail and skin apart using a blunt instrument like a nail file. Soak a tiny bit of cotton ball in an antiseptic cleanser and insert it between the ingrown toenail and the skin. This separates them and allows the skin to heal.
Family caregivers may also want to gently rub some antibiotic cream on the area to prevent infection. They can then put a bandage on the sore toe. The elderly person should avoid wearing shoes for a day or so and stick to sandals or slippers if possible. If the area becomes infected, it’s time to see a doctor.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails in Elderly People
The best way to prevent ingrown toenails in elderly relatives is to provide them with regular foot care. Family caregivers and elder care aides should cut the toenails straight across, not curved or too short. Shoes should fit properly and not squeeze or pinch the toes. Treating an ingrown toenail quickly can reduce the risk of infection. Seniors with diabetes should take extra care of their feet and be taken to a doctor for ingrown toenail treatments.
When it comes to toenail care, seniors are usually not in a position to be able to do it themselves. That’s why elder care assistants and family caregivers must take the responsibility for preventing problems and treating ingrown toenails when they occur.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Manchester, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.