Toenails may very well be the most underrated body part. For many people, they’re nothing more than an opportunity to demonstrate individuality through a particularly creative pedicure. But toenails perform two very important functions — they create pressure on your toes that help with balance while walking, and they act like a protective shield from injuries and infections.
One of the most common maladies affecting toenails is a medical condition known as onychocryptosis, routinely referred to as an ingrown toenail. In fact, an estimated 20% of all people who seek treatment for a foot issue are dealing with an ingrown toenail.
More times than not, ingrown toenails are a minor condition, but untreated, ingrown toenails can result in more serious conditions like an infection, particularly if you suffer from poor circulation. In this blog, the highly trained podiatry team at Cardio Metabolic Institute explains what ingrown toenails are and what not to do when you suffer from this condition.
Although ingrown toenails can occur in any toenail, they usually happen to the big toe when the nail grows into the surrounding skin. This generally results in pain and inflammation.
On the surface, ingrown toenails may sound like no big deal, but when the nail bites into the skin, it makes it much easier for bacteria to enter, which could ultimately lead to infection and more serious complications — especially if you suffer from diabetes or circulation issues. In rare severe cases, an infection caused by ingrown toenails may spread to the outer layer of bone in your foot.
The good news is that there are many things that you can do to keep ingrown toenails from progressing or to help prevent them from happening in the first place.
At the top of the list of proactive strategies to combat ingrown toenails is taking care not to clip your toenails too short. Your goal is to trim your nails slightly longer than the tip of your toes. This helps preserve the nails’ protective function without increasing your risk of developing ingrown toenails.
Keep in mind that unless you have particularly rigid toenails, it’s best to trim your toenails when they’re dry because dry nails make for a smoother cut.
When clipping your toenails, also resist the temptation to round them off like you might do when trimming fingernails. While rounding them off may make them look more aesthetically pleasing to you, the key difference that sets toenails apart from fingernails is that fingers don’t undergo the same force and pressure that your toes do.
By cutting toenails straight across, you allow the edges of the nail to rest comfortably against the skin on either side of the nail instead of creating the perfect storm that may increase the risk for the nail to grow into the surrounding skin.
This one may be difficult for those people who have an affinity for trendy shoes and tend to choose fashion over function when it comes to footwear. But don’t let your fashion sense overrule smarts: When selecting shoes, do yourself a favor and avoid tight, narrow, and ill-fitting shoes.
Shoes that cause crowding and squash your toes together put you at a higher risk of developing ingrown toenails or can worsen your symptoms if you already suffer from an ingrown toenail. The goal is to select a shoe that allows your toes to comfortably rest, particularly in the front section or toe box area. Just say no to those narrow shoes, and your feet will thank you later.
If you have some discomfort or see slight redness next to your nail, pay attention. If it develops a burning sensation, a warm feeling in the skin around the nail, pain, pus, or bleeding, you may have an infection that needs the attention of a podiatrist.
If you have an ingrown toenail, contact us here at Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, Monroe Township, Edison, and East Brunswick, New Jersey. Our podiatry team provides prompt and effective treatment to help you get relief. Book an evaluation by clicking the “book online” button or by calling today.