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It’s happened to the very best of us. You’re sitting there one day, trimming your nails and grooming innocently, or going to get a pedicure and walking out to the car; and the very next day, you can barely walk.
What on earth happened? Well, chances are you’re suffering from an ingrown toenail, which is exceptionally painful on top of being almost entirely preventable.
Here you’ll find a few pointers on how to make sure you never have to suffer another ingrown toenail or, if you’ve managed to already get one, how to go about treating it while you recover.
- 1 What is an Ingrown Toenail?
- 2 How Do You Prevent Ingrown Toenails?
- 3 How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail
- 4 Final Thoughts on Ingrown Toenail Prevention
What is an Ingrown Toenail?
Much like the name implies, an ingrown toenail is just that: a toenail that has grown into the surrounding skin.
Your big toe is most likely to be affected by this painful condition, thanks to the shape of the smaller toes typically not allowing for this kind of incorrect growth.
However, it can happen on any toe and to any person, male or female.
How Do You Prevent Ingrown Toenails?
Because of their commonplace nature among foot ailments, there are plenty of resources available concerning how to prevent ingrown toenails.
Here are a few preventative measures.
Trim Your Toenails Properly
This is especially true regarding the big toe. Many people either trim their big toenail too short or at an angle near the edges, which gives room for the nail to start growing into the wall of the skin.
So, to avoid the issue: do not improperly cut your toenails, and if you go to get a pedicure, ensure your technician knows how to trim toenails to prevent in-growth.
Prevent Trauma to the Toes
Breakage, like improper trimming, can cause trauma to the toe. If you stub your toe hard enough, it can also break the nail and cause it to grow incorrectly.
In this case, make sure that you have some antibiotic ointment on hand to help the subsequent treatment.
Wear Shoes and Socks That Fit Properly
One of the quickest ways to give yourself foot pain is to wear shoes that are too small, but did you know that besides arch pain, ill-fitting shoes can cause an ingrown nail?
You should wear shoes that allow your toes to wiggle freely, and if you don’t, there could be a chance your squished toes will start to form their nail off-center.
How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail
You did everything right, or tried to, and it happened anyways. Thankfully, ingrown toenails are usually not a cause for concern unless there is an infection.
First and foremost, if there is an infection, you should see your doctor or, if you are able, a podiatrist. In the case of infection, they can treat the area and cut the offending piece of nail out from the wall.
So, what can you do from home, if you don’t care to seek professional help?
Take an OTC Pain Reliever
Ingrown toenails are rather painful, so don’t be afraid to take an over-the-counter remedy to help your body sort itself out.
If you have swelling, find an NSAID such as Advil (ibuprofen) to help get that down while you recover.
Soak Your Toe
Although scientific evidence for the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of apple cider vinegar are sparse, this modern folk remedy is often used to treat ingrown toenails.
If you don’t have enough apple cider vinegar to soak your whole foot, you can also soak in warm, soapy water for about twenty minutes at a time.
Epsom salts, too, can help reduce swelling. Many salts come with an aromatic quality that, if nothing else, will help get your mind off of the pain.
Elevate Your Foot and Leg
The tried and true method to fix swelling and pain is simple: elevate your foot and leg, preferably above your heart (but not necessarily).
This will help the blood rush away from the traumatized area, allowing your ingrown toenail to experience enough relief for the following method.
Cut It Out Yourself
If your issue is a result of a nail cut too short, this should sort itself out in a day or two – provided you keep the area dry and clean.
However, when time has passed and no improvement is made, then it’s important to remove the offending part of the nail.
This can be accomplished by first soaking or elevating the toe, then going at it with a sharp pair of clippers.
Cut out the portion digging into your skin, and make further trims over the coming days so that you’re redirecting the nail into a safe shape.
Make sure that you use a clean pair of tools to do so, and that you wash your hands and your toe upon completion.
If you cannot bring yourself to do this on your own, do not be afraid to go to your doctor for treatment.
Final Thoughts on Ingrown Toenail Prevention
Though ingrown toenails are painful, they generally cause discomfort and nothing more.
If you don’t know how to cut your nails properly, learn how to; just cut straight across and not at an angle.