Ingrown Toenails – Causes & Treatment

3 min read

Ingrown toenails develop when there is pressure on the edge of the nail that forces the nail down into the skin. The nail can break through the skin and create inflammation.

This can be uncomfortable and can develop into an infection in the skin surrounding the nail.

When a toenail becomes ingrown, there is often some redness, swelling, and pain.  If it progresses to an infection, there may be pus and drainage, as well.

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Trimming the toenail improperly can cause it to become ingrown.  Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly and put pressure on the edges of the toenail can also cause ingrown toenails.  Hereditary factors can also make a person more likely to develop ingrown toenails.

There are a variety of risk factors that make a person more likely to develop ingrown toenails. They include the following:

  • Participating in sports, particularly soccer, basketball, and tennis;
  • Wearing shoes that are too small or too big;
  • Repetitive trauma to the feet;
  • Pressure on the feet;
  • Lack of good foot hygiene;
  • Abnormal gait;
  • Deformities in the foot or toe, like bunions or hammertoes;
  • Congenital deformity of the toenail;
  • Unusually long toes;
  • Obesity;
  • Diabetes;
  • Arthritis;
  • Fungal infection of the toenails;
  • Lower extremity edema;
  • Excessive sweating of the feet.

What Causes Infected Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur in the big toes most often, but they can affect any of the toes.  Because the feet tend to be warm and moist, they are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

When the skin breaks due to pressure from the nail, the bacteria can move in and an infection can develop.

Treatment for Ingrown Toenails

If you have an ingrown toenail, there are several steps you can take to treat it. If the pain persists over a week or you see signs of infection, like redness or drainage, you should consult your doctor/pharmacist.

They may recommend soaking the foot in a solution of Epsom salts and water. They should also give you guidelines on the correct dosage, soaking time etc. They may also recommend that you take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like aspirin or ibuprofen.

A Chiropodist can help to trim the infected nail & can also make some recommendations for treatment & further prevention.

Prevention of Ingrown Toenails

Caring for your feet well can help to prevent ingrown toenails from developing.  Follow these steps:

  1. Cut your toenails straight across.  Do not cut the toenails in an oval shape or arc to match the curve of the toe.  Always cut them straight across.  If you get a pedicure, be sure to tell the pedicurist to trim your nails this way.
  2. Trim your toenails to an average length.  If your toenails get too long, they can press against the edges of your shoes.  If they are too short, your shoes can rub against the skin and press the toenail into the skin.  The toenails should be cut even with the tips of the toes.
  3. Wear well-fitting shoes.  If your shoes are too tight or too narrow, they can pinch your feet and put pressure on the toes.  This can cause ingrown toenails to develop.
  4. Protect your feet.  If you work in an environment that puts you at risk for a foot injury, be sure to wear steel-toed boots or other protective footwear.

If you suffer from ingrown toenails, call to a Foot Solutions store near you. We can measure your feet and help you to make sure that you are wearing supportive, well-fitting shoes that will minimize your risk of developing ingrown toenails.  Visit Foot Solutions to learn more today.