If you’ve ever experienced the pain and swelling of an ingrown toenail, you already know that it hurts. Having an ingrown toenail can really interfere with your life, much more than you think it would. The bad news is that if you’ve gone through this once, you’re likely to go through it again.
Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, make it more likely that you’ll have an ingrown toenail happen more than once. But other conditions can also make it likely that ingrown toenails will be a recurring problem. Ingrown toenails are caused by the edge of your nail growing into the surrounding tissue.
Why you need treatment
You might think that because an ingrown toenail seems pretty minor, you can just ignore it and hope that it will go away on its own. But this is the wrong approach to take. Untreated ingrown toenails can spread infection, even to your bloodstream, which can become serious.
You can get serious infections like staph or MRSA from ingrown toenails. This is because the bacteria for diseases like staph or MRSA live on your skin, and an ingrown toenail acts as a means to introduce that bacteria into your body.
In some cases, ingrown toenails can even progress into a condition called gangrene, which usually requires surgery to remove dead or dying tissue.
Trim your toenails the right way
Many cases of ingrown toenails are caused by using an improper technique to trim your nails. You may feel tempted to try to trim your toenails in a rounded shape, but this is a common cause of ingrown toenails.
Trim your toenails straight across. If you have your toenails trimmed at a nail salon, make sure the technician trims them straight. If you have diabetes or can’t reach your toes, please call our office to trim your toenails for you.
Wear the right-fitting shoes
Wearing shoes that don’t fit well is another common cause of ingrown toenails, especially recurrent ingrown nails. Your shoes and socks shouldn’t fit tightly anywhere. This is one reason teenagers are more likely to get ingrown toenails: their feet often grow quickly, and they may not replace their shoes frequently enough.
Trim your nails to the right length
You may feel tempted to trim your nails just a bit shorter so you don’t have to do it as often. While the intentions behind this are good, it also makes it more likely that you’ll develop ingrown toenails.
Your toenails should be trimmed to be about the same length as the end of your toes. Trimming them shorter makes it more likely that pressure from your shoes will cause the edge of your toenails to grow into the surrounding tissue.
Inspect your feet more often if you have diabetes
If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to develop ingrown toenails, in addition to other foot conditions. This is because diabetes causes poor blood flow to your feet. You should inspect your feet on a regular basis, especially when you have diabetes. Make regular appointments with your podiatrist as well — a podiatrist is an essential member of your health care team if you have diabetes.
Whether you think that you may have an ingrown toenail or you’re simply due to have your feet inspected, our providers at Great Lakes Foot and Ankle Institute are ready to help. Contact us by calling the Illinois or Michigan office most convenient to you, or get in touch online today.