Ingrown toenails are one condition you definitely want to avoid, if you can help it. One, they’re unsightly. Two, they can cause significant pain and tenderness and make it difficult to wear shoes comfortable. Third, if untreated they could lead to a serious infection, especially if you have diabetes or an otherwise compromised immune, circulatory, or nervous system.
Fortunately, you can discourage your nails from growing sideways into your skin. If you’d like to prevent the next episode, try these strategies:
Trim your toenails properly. We know what you’re thinking—how hard can it be cut a set of toenails? The truth is that it isn’t, but not everyone knows the right way. Don’t curve your toenails around the corners like you would with your fingernails, and don’t cut them too short, either. Instead, go straight across and leave a little length on.
Give your feet some room in your shoes. Tight, constrictive spaces for toes can push toenails downward and cause them to grow in rather than out. This can happen if you spend a lot of time in tight dress shoes. It can also happen to children who outgrow their shoes faster than they are replaced.
Protect your toes. Slamming feet into table legs, dropping heavy objects, or other sudden traumas to toes are a frequent cause of ingrown toenails. So, make sure you’re properly protected with closed-toed shoes—or if necessary even steel-toed boots—when engaging in activities that might put your feet at risk.
Get the surgical fix. The unfortunate truth is that, for certain feet, the three above solutions won’t be enough to prevent recurrence of ingrown toenails. That is because you may have inherited a genetic predisposition for ingrown toenails, even if you did everything right. In these cases, it’s often best to get a small sliver of the nail matrix permanently removed. This prevents the offending nail edge from growing back—ever—and provides permanent relief.
If you’re sick of ingrown toenails and find that simple prevention strategies aren’t working, stop in and see the team at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. We’ll help you deal with your problem quickly so you can get back on your feet and enjoy your life. To schedule with us at any of our Virginia or West Virginia locations, dial (800) 456-8637.