Clear Step Podiatry

What Actually Is An Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenails happen when the edges or corners of your nails grow into the skin next to the nail. The big toe is most likely to get an ingrown toenail.

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails can happen in both men and women. Ingrown toenails may be more common in people with sweaty feet, such as teenagers. Older people may also be at higher risk because toenails thicken with age.

Many things can cause an ingrown toenail, including:

  • Cutting toenails incorrectly
  • Irregular, curved toenails
  • Footwear that places a lot of pressure on the big toes, such as socks and stockings that are too tight or shoes that are too tight, narrow, or flat for your feet
  • Toenail injury, including stubbing your toe, dropping something heavy on your foot, or kicking a ball repeatedly
  • Improper foot hygiene, such as not keeping your feet clean or dry

Using your feet extensively during athletic activities can make you especially prone to getting ingrown toenails. Activities in which you repeatedly kick an object or put pressure on your feet for long periods of time can cause toenail damage and increase your risk of ingrown toenails.

How Do I Reduce The Risk Of Getting One?

  •  Cut toenails properly! Cut straight across, since angling the sides of the nail can encourage the nail to grow into the skin.
  • Don’t cut the nails too short at risk of trauma or of hitting the shoe. 
  • Always remember to file after cutting.
  • Pulling at and picking your nails is always a bad idea
  • Keep your feet dry.
  • Wear cotton or wool socks, not nylon, and try to avoid tights which tend to hold sweat against the foot.
  • Don’t wear shoes that are not the right size!

How to treat an ingrown?

To treat your ingrown toenail at home, try:

  • soaking your feet in warm water for about 15 to 20 minutes three to four times per day (At other times, your shoes and feet should be kept dry.)
  • pushing skin away from the toenail edge with a cotton ball soaked in olive oil
  • using over-the-counter pain killer medicines
  • applying a topical antibiotic or a steroid cream, to prevent infection

Try home treatments for a few days to a few weeks. If the pain worsens or you find it difficult to walk or perform other activities because of the nail, see your Doctor or Podiatrist

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