You might not think much about your toenails, but if you’ve developed an ingrown nail, it’s hard to ignore. Ingrown nails may cause redness, inflammation, and pain. Left untreated, ingrown nails can also contribute to infections, which are particularly problematic for those with diabetes. Unfortunately, because so many ingrown nails are caused by grooming habits, they tend to be recurrent problems.
If you suspect you have an ingrown nail, our team of podiatrists here at Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle can help you get relief from ingrown nails, but we also want to help you prevent them when possible. Read on to learn steps you can take to reduce your risk of recurrent ingrown nails.
Identify the common causes of ingrown nails
Ingrown nails from when part of your nail grows into the flesh along the side of your toe. There are many reasons why some people are more prone to ingrown nails than others. These include:
- Anatomy (i.e., having overly curved toenails)
- Wearing shoes that squish your toes tightly together
- Improper nail care (i.e., trimming your nails in a curve)
- Injuring your toe
- Repetitive trauma to your toes (i.e., running, kicking, etc.)
While you can’t do anything to change how your nails grow, you can take steps to address the risk factors within your control.
One of the biggest risk factors for ingrown toenails is improperly trimming them. Ideally, nails should be cut straight across. Most people find this easiest to perform in two cuts, rather than trying to cut your entire nail at once. Here are a few additional tips for trimming your nails:
- Use the appropriately sized nail clipper
- Don’t round off the corners of your nail
- Avoid clipping nails too short
- Smooth your nail edges with an emery board
- Never share nail clippers
If you find that thick nails make it hard to properly trim your nails, talk to us. Thick nails can be a sign of a fungal infection. Fungal infections can be treated with antifungal medications and laser therapy 一 available in our Wheat Ridge, Colorado, office.
Wearing the right shoes
Taking care of your nails is just one way to reduce recurrent ingrown nails. Wearing the right shoes can go a long way toward keeping your feet happy. Look for shoes with a wide toe box that won't cram your toes together. Not only do well-fitting shoes reduce nail trouble, but they also reduce your risk of other foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and blisters.
Treating stubborn ingrown toenails
Despite your best efforts, it’s still possible to see an ingrown nail. At the first sign of trouble, soak your feet in warm, soapy water. This helps keep your feet clean and reduces your risk of developing an infection. You may consider applying a topical antibiotic cream after your foot soak.
However, sometimes it’s best to skip the at-home treatment and come see us:
- If you suspect that an infection has set in
- If your nail is too painful to touch
- If you have diabetes
Our team of podiatrists may recommend a course of antibiotics to clear any infection. Potential treatments include:
- Inserting a piece of gauze under the edge of your nail (to prevent it from digging into your skin)
- Removal of part of your nail
- Laser treatment to stop your nail from continually growing into the edge of your skin
Don’t let recurrent ingrown nails keep you from staying active on your feet. Visit our Wheat Ridge, Granby, Thornton, or Evergreen, Colorado office to explore the ingrown nail treatments that are right for you. Give us a call at 303-423-2520 or simply request an appointment online.