Prevent Ingrown Toenails [But Still Come to Us if You Have Problems!]

by | Jan 25, 2019 | Skin and Nail Conditions

An ingrown toenail is usually not the worst problem one can face in a day, but it can certainly add to the suffering! The pain and tenderness making its presence known through the day can make other problems feel just that much worse.

The best way to deal with a nuisance like an ingrown toenail is to keep yourself from having one in the first place! No ingrown toenail, no problem you have to treat. Right?

In many cases, it really is this simple. There may be ways that you are increasing your risk of painful ingrowth. By making some changes, you might be able to put a stop to most of your ingrown toenails for good.

However, it’s not that easy for everyone. Some people are simply more genetically inclined to have ingrown toenails. Their nails just naturally tend to curve as they grow, and there’s little they can do in the way of little everyday changes to fix that. They will likely need more advanced treatment to find the relief they need.

If ingrown toenails persistently cause trouble for you, it’s well worth examining some of the causes and prevention tips below. If they’re not working, however, odds are likely that you’re not doing something wrong and need more professional intervention. We’ll be more than happy to help!

Put Your Shoes to the Test

Footwear can sometimes present an environment that’s unhealthy toward toes and encourages nails to grow inward.

Shoes (and even sometimes socks!) that are too tight and don’t provide enough room in the toe box will cram toes together and affect the direction in which nails grow. You should be able to wiggle your toes relatively freely within a shoe. If your toes are squished together, you need to be wearing something different.

If your teen or tween often experiences ingrown toenails, their shoes should be your first target for inspection. Adolescent feet grow quickly, and odds tend to be higher around this part of life that their shoes are being outgrown.

And if a pair of shoes is too tight in the toe area, don’t try to “stretch them out” or “break them in.” That just doesn’t work and is only going to result in more trouble for your feet. You need new shoes.

Protect Your Toes from Trauma

Are your shoes also keeping your toes safe in dangerous situations?

An injury to the toenail can be another cause of ingrowing. A toenail that is recovering from trauma will not always grow back correctly, and instead begin to dig into the skin.

Protecting your toes from impacts may lead to fewer cases of ingrown toenails in your life. If you’re in a career where steel-toed boots are recommended, make sure you always have them on (but have enough room in the toe box, of course!). If you have standards for lifting and operating items that prevent heavy things from coming down on your feet in painful ways, make sure you follow them!

But industry is not the only realm where toe can face trauma. Avid runners might also be quite familiar with the toll their pastime can play on their nails. The impacts toes receive during running may be small individually compared to, say, dropping a bowling ball on your foot, but they add up over thousands and thousands of steps.

Shoe choice once again plays the most major role in avoiding bad times for toenails in runners. Ensure that there is at least an inch between the end of the longest toe and the front of the running shoe. However, also make sure that your foot is not sliding too much within the shoe and slamming up against the front, regardless.

(And if you get black toenails on the regular, it’s usually sign that something in your footwear or your running routine isn’t quite right. Let us know and we can help you get to the root of the problem.)

Are You Cutting Your Toenails Correctly?

This is the factor that always seems to come up when ingrown toenails are involved. In a way, trimming your toenails is almost a form of controlled trauma. If you do it incorrectly, the nails might start to grow incorrectly, just as if they had been injured in a bigger impact.

First of all, use the right equipment when trimming your toenails. The smaller clippers for fingernails are not ideal. They can lack the strength to get through thicker toenails well, and will require you make more cuts on your larger nails. This opens up more opportunities for jaggedness that can catch on your socks and cause problems.

When you trim your toenails, cut straight across and do not curve down dramatically at the edges. If you happen to have some sharp points, you can always file them down a bit.

Also, leave a bit of white on the end of each nail. Cutting too far down risks cutting into the nail bed. This not only increases the risks of ingrown nails, it just plain hurts.

Addressing the above elements tends to take care of a great many cases of ingrown toenails. As we previously noted, however, your nails may be fated by family to curve as they do. In these cases, permanent relief might include permanent removal of the nail.

Don’t let ingrown toenails be a thorn in your daily routine. If they just keep coming back (or if you have a case that is particularly painful or looks infected), give Wilks Advanced Foot Care a call at (541) 673-0742.