If you’ve had to deal with the pain and discomfort ingrown toenails can bring, you aren’t alone. Researchers estimate at least 40 million American adults have experienced this unfortunate condition.
In addition to causing pain, swelling, and redness, ingrown toenails can keep you off your feet and put you at risk for developing an infection. At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center, we have experience helping patients in Wheat Ridge, Granby, Evergreen, and Arvada, Colorado, deal with the discomfort ingrown toenails brings.
Our team of board-certified podiatrists know that prevention is often the best medicine. That’s why we’ve curated this informative guide to help you better understand ingrown toenails and learn what steps you can take to prevent them. Read on to learn more!
What are ingrown toenails and why do they form?
Ingrown toenails are a common foot condition. They form when the corner or edge of your toenail starts to grow into the soft flesh of the toe. Though the big toe is most commonly affected, you can develop an ingrown toenail on any toe.
Some of the most common reasons you might develop an ingrown toenail include:
- Family history
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit right and crowd your toes
- Injury or trauma (e.g., stubbing your toe)
- Pedicures with aggressive trimming
- Trimming nails too short
In addition, you’re at greater risk of developing ingrown toenails if you have diabetes or another health condition that affects your blood circulation.
How can I tell if I have an ingrown toenail?
The most common symptoms of an ingrown toenail are pain, redness, and swelling in your toe — especially at the side of the nail. Sometimes the ingrown nail can result in an infection.
Most times, you can care for an ingrown nail at home. The most simple remedy is to soak the affected foot in warm water and Epsom salt. Once the nail and skin are softened, you can clip the affected area and apply an antibiotic ointment.
If you have diabetes or another health condition that affects blood flow to your feet, however, or if the pain becomes severe or the redness or infection seems to be spreading, it’s time for professional help. A board-certified podiatrist, like the team at Rocky Mountain Ankle & Foot Center, can help serious complications.
What can I do to prevent ingrown toenails?
Preventing ingrown toenails is the best way to ensure you won’t have to deal with the pain, discomfort, and complications due to the condition. The best ways to prevent ingrown toenails include:
- Cutting nails straight across — Avoid uneven corners or cuts that are too short.
- Wearing proper footwear — Make sure your toes aren’t crowded, which increases the risk of developing ingrown nails.
- Avoid toe trauma — If you run long distance, play a sport that involves using your toes, like soccer, or have a job where you’re at higher risk for a foot injury, be sure to wear protective shoes and give your feet a break from footwear at the end of the day.
- Clean under nails — Regularly cleaning under your toenails can help prevent an infection from starting.
Sometimes professional foot care is helpful. For example, if you have naturally thick or very curved toenails, our team at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center can help trim your nails and keep them clean.
If you have an ingrown toenail or want to learn more about preventing this uncomfortable condition, contact the Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center nearest you, or request an appointment online now!