Prevent & Treat Ingrown Toenails
There’s no point in showing off your slick new high-tops if you can’t even enjoy showing them off because you’ve got an ingrown toenail, and you’ll likely not even want to keep your toe cooped up inside a shoe anyway, regardless of how damn good they look. Whether you’ve suffered from, have never suffered from, or are currently suffering from an ingrown toenail, listen up, we’re about to tell you how to prevent and treat ingrown toenails.
We know this might not exactly be what you want to read up before Easter, but learning now will save you pain and hassle in the future, so you can rock your shoes with confidence and entirely pain-free.
What Is An Ingrown Toenail?
As the name suggests an ingrown toenail is a toenail that has grown into the toe. If it sounds like it hurts, that’s because it does. But it’s not the end of the world, so try to stay calm.
Will I Die?
No, don’t worry, it’s nothing that extreme.
How Does It Happen?
There are a few reasons you might get an ingrown toenail. Sometimes it’s just plain bad luck, but more often than not, it’s what you do that brings it on, so really you’ve got no one but yourself to blame.
Reasons for suffering from an ingrown toenail include:
- Wearing shoes that are too tight and crowding your toenails
- Cutting your toenails either too short or not straight across
- Banging your toe and injuring your toenail
- Having oddly curved toenails
Typically, you’ll get an ingrown toenail on your big toe, but it can affect other toes, so don’t think you can just chop your big toes off now and never have to worry about it.
Will I Lose My Toe?
We’re not sure there’s ever been a case of someone losing their toe to an ingrown toenail, but we don’t have all the data to prove it. With modern medicine and treatments, though, we’ll guess that it’s highly unlikely you lose your toe, so don’t worry about needing to learn to walk again just yet.
However, while the causes sound like very minor things, an untreated ingrown toenail can lead to even greater issues. If you don’t realize you have an ingrown toenail (because they don’t always hurt) you risk infecting the bone underneath your toe, which can lead to a severe infection.
If you suffer from poor circulation, it poses an even greater issue, as even a small ingrown toenail can lead to further complications going as extreme as gangrene.
So hey, it looks like you could lose your toe from an ingrown toenail. Who knew?
How To Prevent It?
If this has terrified you as much as it terrified us writing it, here are some tips on how to prevent it ever happening to you or anybody you know and care for.
Trim Your Toenails Straight – It’s tempting to trim your nails to the shape of your toe, but this is one of the most common reasons for ingrown toenails. Instead, cut it straight across. It may not look pretty, but it’s better than an ingrown toenail.
Keep Toenails Not Too Short Nor Too Long – Having your toenails at a moderate length so they’ve level with the tips of your toes. Too long and they risk curling over but too short and the pressure from shoes may press them into the skin
Wear Properly Fitting Shoes – Shoes that are too small will crowd your toes and place too much pressure on them which can lead to the nail growing into surrounding tissue.
Keep Your Feet Safe – Wear protective footwear if working in environments with a high risk of foot injury to prevent damage and potential cuts or grazes to your feet.
Keep One Eye On Your Feet – We don’t mean all the time, of course, but if you suffer from diabetes, you might not realize you have an ingrown toenail until it’s too late.
How To Treat It?
If it’s already too late for you, then you’re probably wondering how you can treat it and if you’ll ever walk again. The good news is that you need not visit a doctor to fix an ingrown toenail, and you can do a lot to remedy it at home.
Take A Soak – Because you’ve worked so hard, you can treat yourself to an ingrown toenail eliminating foot soak 3 to 4 times a day. Along with helping you relax, it also relaxes the skin around your nail and prevents the nail growing further into it to minimize pain and hopefully ease the issue.
Keep Your Feet Dry – Infections spread faster in damp conditions, so after soaking your foot, keep it at dry as you can to mitigate the infection spreading further.
Let Your Feet Breathe – Wearing wide and comfortable shoes or even sandals will allow your feet to breathe while also easing the pressure on your toes so the infection doesn’t spread. Sneakers are a great option as they’re breathable and flexible.
Ease The Pain – We’re not here to recommend developing an addiction to painkillers, but a simple ibuprofen or paracetamol will help ease the pain of your ingrown toenail while it heals. It’s challenging to do anything when in pain, so this will help you feel a little more normal for the time being.
It’s imperative you do not cut your toenail, but instead let it grow out, and also do not pick at your toe or toenail, as this can cause further aggravation.
During this time, you also want to minimize the pressure on the toe so do not wear tight or pointed shoes. You can get around this by wearing sneakers or sandals, but if your work has a strict dress-code, you may need to invest in a shoe stretcher so you can maintain your professional appearance while also maintaining your sanity despite the throbbing pain in your foot.
If it seems like the infection is getting worse, get in touch with your doctor to receive more adequate treatment.
Ingrown toenails can suck, and most people wouldn’t even wish them on their worst enemy. However, as long as you don’t let them get too out of hand – or should we say out of foot? – they’re easy enough to treat and fix.
What’s better than treating them is not letting them occur in the first place, so remember to take as good care of your feet as you do everywhere else.