Ingrown toenails are a common condition in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh. Ingrown toenails are set on this path by continued trauma, impacts or irritation to the toe. Once buried, the toenail will continue to plow its way through skin. The toenail will not correct itself, leading to inflammation causing severe discomfort, and eventually, infection. Caught early, ingrown toenails can be treated at home, but once inflammation sets in, seeking a doctor is paramount. The best way to treat an ingrown toenail is prevention.
Poor Fitting Shoes
Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful. If you begin to experience them more often, you should look closely at the shoes you wear. Are they too tight? Too loose? Do they pinch or cramp your toes? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, your shoes may be the culprit.
Poorly fit shoes can also restrict blood flow and prevent the toes from moving naturally. Always buy shoes that fit snugly without any gaps at the heel or along the sides. Loose fitting shoes that are either stretched out or just too big will often slip and slide while you walk. This provides little to no stability to the arch of your foot or the curves of your toes.
When the shoe is allowed to slide, your toes are often shoved towards the front. This type of repeated contact can lead to irritation of the toes and toenails. Over time, an ingrown toenail can develop. Shoes that are too tight cause constant irritation that inflame the foot and open opportunities for bacteria to set in.
It’s much easier and less painful to replace a pair of shoes than deal with an ingrown toenail or other potential foot problem.
The Best Fitting Shoe
Always make sure your shoes fit comfortably without pinching or cramping your toes. Your feet should be able to move comfortably within the shoes without your toes bumping against the front, or your heel being pressed into the back.
Walk a few steps and re-adjust your laces if necessary. This takes the pressure off of the top of your foot, and helps to maintain proper arch support.
Home Treatment For Ingrown Toenails
It is not recommended to put any foreign object under your toenail such as cotton swabs or dental floss. If you have an ingrown toenail, there are several things you can do to keep it from getting worse.
- Soaking your feet with a mixture of warm water and Epsom salt can alleviate inflammation and help your toenail grow more naturally. Soak 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes.
- Trim nails properly. That is, trim them straight across, not too short, and file down sharp or ragged edges.
- Don’t play surgeon! You could cause an infection and make things worse.
When to Seek Medical Assistance
Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection. Redness, swelling and warm to the touch are all signs that it is time to seek a doctor.
If you have an ingrown toenail that needs attention, the physicians at San Antonio Podiatry can help. We have years of experience diagnosing and treating not only ingrown toenails, but plantar fasciitis, bunions, and much more. Check out our locations to find an office near you. Book an appointment online with one of our podiatrists, or call 210-405-7672.