In this condition, the nail grows in such a way that it cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. Ingrown toenails develop for many reasons. In some cases, this condition is congenital, running in families. People with toes that curl are more likely to get ingrown toenails! Trauma, like stubbing your toe, can push the toenail deep into the skin, but repeated little accidents like this can mean that your ingrown toenails really become a problem. In this article we talk about how you can prevent this common, painful form of nail disease.
1. Keep your feet clean and make sure there are no curves or breaks in the nail
It’s very important to keep your feet clean to avoid infection. Try the following foot soak to keep those tooties in an uber-hygienic condition. Try this twice a week. If the toes are infected, follow your podiatrist or doctor’s instructions.
A relaxing foot soak
- Soak the feet in warm salt water.
- Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel.
- Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the toes (where appropriate).
- Apply a moisturising cream or oil to the rest of the foot.
It is also very important to regularly check your toes and make sure there have been no changes in the nails. If you spot a problem, go and see a specialist as soon as you can to prevent any more serious problems from emerging.
2. Wear comfortable shoes
Wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly is of utmost importance when it comes to protecting yourself against ingrown toenails. Shoes that put too much pressure on your toes from any angle or pinch should be avoided. If you are suffering from diabetes or have some form of nerve damage in your feet, you might not be able to tell if there is some damage being done down there.
When out shopping for shoes, take care to get fitted, preferably in a specialist shop. Shoes with a wide “toebox”, which leave around 1/2″ between the toes and the shoe are ideal.
Arch alignment and socks
The arch of the shoes should hit your food in the right area. Your shoe should align correctly. The widest zone of the foot should fit into the widest area of the shoe.
Socks are also key in preventing ingrown toenails. Tight socks and hosiery are just as damaging as tight shoes when it comes to the feet!
Insoles are great for a little extra cushioning and to stop your foot from sliding back and forth in your shoe, causing your toes to come into contact with the inside of your shoe. If your shoes don’t snuggly hug your feet in the arches of the foot, you could try insoles, which will ensure proper foot alignment. A stability insole, for example, can give you a supportive cushioning and a firm support. Lateral wedges can be bought over the counter.
3. Avoid closed shoes as much as possible
Ingrown toenails can be caused by a damp atmosphere inside closed shoes. This is especially important after surgery, so follow your surgeon’s instructions and recommendations regarding when you can safely begin wearing closed shoes after an operation.
To avoid the problems caused by closed shoes, try to go barefoot whenever possible. Going barefoot has lots of benefits. And yes, for best results, take your socks off, too.
4. See a podiatrist frequently
Nail management is a complex subject, and sometimes it’s nice to get some advice from an expert. Put your mind at rest regarding your ingrown toenails by visiting the podiatrist regularly.
5. Cut your nails and don’t cause swelling
Straight across, every time
It is recommended that you trim your nails straight across. If you have your nails done at a beauty salon or nail bar, make sure you let the staff member who will be cutting your nails how you need it done. If you have diabetes or another problem that prevents you from either being able to cut your nails yourself or do it safely, have your podiatrist do it.
The nails should ideally be kept at a moderate length. The toenails should be in line with the tips of your tootsies. When cut too short, the pressure from your shoes may push the nails down into the tissue below it and make the situation much worse.