If you've ever had an ingrown toenail, you know just how painful this seemingly minor condition can be. Luckily, it's fairly easy to prevent ingrown toenails in most cases. Podiatrists Dr. Michael Stegman and Dr. John Erotas of American Foot & Ankle Specialists in Sun City and Scottsdale, AZ share a few tips that will help you avoid ingrown toenails and explain how the condition is treated.
Don't round your toenails
Rounding your toenails makes it much easier for the side of your nails to grow into the skin surrounding your nail. Cut your nails in a straight line to reduce your risk of ingrown toenails. Trimming your nails too short can also make ingrown toenails more likely. It's best to keep your nails level with the top of your toes.
Keep it loose
Tight shoes and socks that press on your toes may cause ingrown toenails even if you carefully cut your nails. Look for shoes that offer plenty of room in the toe box, and avoid socks that are too restrictive.
Avoid fungal infections
Toenail fungus increases the risk that you'll develop an ingrown toenail. Prevent infections by wearing shoes or sandals in public locker rooms and around pools. Fungus thrives in moist, dark spaces. If your feet are particularly sweaty, don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Putting on a fresh pair of socks in the middle of the day can also help you avoid infections.
Wear protective shoes
Toenail injuries increase your ingrown toenail risk. Wear protective or steel-tipped shoes if falling objects are a hazard at your workplace.
How are ingrown toenails treated?
You may be able to free an ingrown toenail at home if it has only just begun to grow into your skin. Soak your toe in warm water for about 15 minutes, then gently pass a small piece of cotton or dental floss under the nail to loosen it. If the nail won't budge, don't force it.
Don't attempt to treat ingrown toenails at home if you have diabetes.
When you can't free the nail yourself, or you notice signs of infection, such as red skin or streaks, warmth or pus, visit our Scottsdale or Sun City office. We can remove the trapped section of the nail during a minor procedure. If ingrown toenails are a frequent problem, removing a portion or the entire nail may be the best option.
Are you concerned about an ingrown toenail or another foot or ankle problem? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Stegman and Dr. Erotas of American Foot & Ankle Specialists by calling (480) 483-9000 for the Scottsdale, AZ, office or (623) 977-8388 for the Sun City, AZ, office.