What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

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An ingrown toenail is the most common foot ailment that podiatrists treat. If you’ve found yourself with an ingrown toenail, or experience them again and again, you are not alone. While the big toe is the most likely toe to suffer an ingrown toenail, it can occur on any toe.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Sometimes, an ingrown toenail occurs for reasons beyond your control. But there are also some causes that you are able to control. Isolating the causes of an ingrown toenail, and especially a recurring one, is the first step to preventing it from happening again.

An ingrown toenail can happen to anyone, and these are the common causes:

  • Irregular shape or thickness of the nail
  • Injury to the toe or nail
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Cutting the nails incorrectly

Prevention and Early Attention is the Best Medicine

An ingrown toenail can be a painful and annoying occurrence. If you are dealing with any of the causes for an ingrown toenail that is within your control, act now to help prevent it from occurring again. And no matter what the cause of your ingrown toenail, be sure to attend to it quickly.

  1. The right shoes. Tight, heeled, or pointed shoes pinch the toes, causing the toes to push into each other or the shoe. This pinching of the toes and toenail create an atmosphere perfect for causing ingrown toenails. Wear shoes that allow your toes to wiggle to prevent ingrown toenails. And when you participate in activities that could result in an injury to the toe or toenail, wear appropriate covered, firm shoes.
  1. Cutting and trimming your nails. Cut toenails straight across rather than rounding them at the edges. Your toenails need to grow away from the skin to prevent and avoid an ingrown toenail.
  1. Treat the first sign of an ingrown nail immediately. Having pain, pressure, or redness around a toenail? This is a sign of an ingrown toenail. Apply at-home treatments, or see a podiatrist immediately. Time is critical to avoid the ingrown toenail from worsening to a point it may need surgery.
  1. See a podiatrist. Seeing a podiatrist may be needed rather than at-home treatments for a variety of reasons:
  • If you’ve tried at-home treatments with no relief after a few days, see a podiatrist.
  • If you’re uncomfortable trying at-home treatments, see a podiatrist.
  • If you’ve had an ingrown toenail for a week or more, it is likely past the mild stage and you will have to see a podiatrist. Get to know the when, why, and how of ingrown toenail surgery.
  • If you experience recurring ingrown toenails even when cutting your nails straight across and wearing shoes that allow your toes to wiggle, see a podiatrist. It may be the shape or thickness of your toenail that is the cause. A podiatrist can determine the best solution for you, helping end recurring ingrown toenails.

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