An ingrown toenail isn’t the worst thing that can go wrong with your feet (think broken bones or diabetic neuropathy). But it sure can cause a lot of pain and agony. Ingrown toenails are fairly common, but it’s also fairly easy to avoid getting them, with one exception: if they run in the family, you may be destined to deal with them for life.
The best ways to prevent getting ingrown toenail are:
- Trim your toenails straight across. Don’t curve them and don’t angle them at the sides.
- Don’t cut your toenails too short. They should remain flush with or slightly longer than the flesh of your toes. If you have your toenails done at the salon, remind the pedicurist to do the same.
- Wear shoes with a wide toe box to avoid friction and pressure against the nails.
- Skip the high heels. Heels force your toes forward, jamming them into the shoe and pressuring the nail beds.
- Avoid trauma. If you participate in sports that involve a lot of kicking, watch out for indications of ingrown toenails (swelling, redness, and pain at the side of the nail).
- Fix existing toe deformities.
At-risk athletes, such as professional ballet dancers and avid amateur soccer players, and people with a genetic predisposition shouldn’t despair if they have chronically ingrown toenails. Instead, be vigilant about the prevention methods outlined above and try home remedies such as soaking in warm water and massaging the side of the nail bed.
In the worst-case scenario, an ingrown toenail may become infected and, if ignored, the infection could spread to the bone. So if an ingrown toenail doesn’t respond to home treatments, makes it difficult to walk, or shows signs of an infection, make an appointment with board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center. We fix feet for residents of Fairfax County and the northern Virginia area. Call us in Centreville at (703) 996-3000 or contact us online.