Prevea Health

Ingrown toenails

 
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Problematic toenails are a common problem for many people and can be painful. Sometimes it’s how the toenails grow out and other times it’s caused by shoes and how we trim our nails. These helpful tips can help you avoid ingrown toenails.
 
  • Cut your toenails straight across. This will help reduce the chance of an ingrown nail and decrease your risk of a toe infection. When nails are cut in a rounded shape, the nail at the tip of your toe has an opportunity to curve into the skin on either side of your nail.
  • Allow your toenails to be a little long. There is a balance between very long nails and nails that have a little white showing at the end. Trimming your nails too short will encourage the nail edge to rub on the skin around your nail and can increase your chance of an ingrown nail.
  • Use the right tools to trim your nails. A traditional nail clipper is helpful for fingernails, but when it comes to our toes, a nail nipper may be easier to use. There are a number of different styles, but they all make it easier to trim your nails from different angles. When using a nail nipper, remember to trim off the nail in small pieces, as cutting the entire nail is more difficult and not as accurate.
  • Do not cut your cuticles. Growing up, I was always told to trim the cuticles of my nails if needed, but it is actually recommended to not trim them. Trimming the cuticle can expose the nail and skin to bacteria and fungus, and puts them at risk for an infection. Using a moisturizer on the nails can help to soften the cuticles and the skin surrounding the nail.
  • Make sure your shoes are not too tight. If your toenail is sore, try to look at the type of shoes you are wearing. It could be that the shoes don’t have enough room in the toe area. The technical term for shoe design in this area is called the toe box. Measure your feet once every couple of years to see if your shoe size has changed. It is remarkable how much our feet continue to grow or widen with age. When shopping for shoes, shop in the afternoon or evening when your feet are at their largest. Wear socks that you would usually wear when trying on shoes (athletic or dress). When using the measuring device, place your thumb width at the end of the longest toe. This is your accurate shoe size. It is healthy to have some room for your toes to move in the shoe.

With these few tips and tricks, you will hopefully be able to avoid common toenail blunders. If your toe starts to swell, turn red or becomes hot to the touch, infection may be starting and you should see a doctor to get treated.
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