What Causes Ingrown Toenails

13 Jun What Causes Ingrown Toenails

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Onychocryptosis isn’t the name of a horror-flick monster, but it could be the cause of the monster-size pain in your feet. It’s the medical term for ingrown toenail, a painful situation where your nail starts growing inward into your skin rather than outward. It hurts and it can lead to more serious problems like infection.

What’s causing your ingrown toenail? It could be one of these five things.

1. A Shoe Thing

Ever notice that the number-one piece of podiatric advice is always, “Wear the right shoes?” That’s because good foot health starts with good footwear. Tight-fitting shoes, pointed toes and high heels can all cause ingrown nails.

It may not stroll down the runway at a fashion show, but a supportive, well-fitting shoe with a wide toe box is bliss for your feet. If you’re getting along in years, like to exercise, or work on your feet, you’ll need even more support and protection from your shoes.

To avoid ingrown toenails and a long, long list of other foot woes, wear well-fitted shoes with arch support and room for your tender toes. If you need extra support, De. Shuman can prescribe custom orthotics that will make you feel like you’re walking on air.

2. Socks and the City

Your sock-wearing habits can also lead to ingrown toenails. If your socks are too tight, they’ll cut circulation to your feet and will also help create a warm, damp environment which is perfect for growing bacteria. Never sleep with your socks on. Your feet need to breathe at night. Always wear socks that let air circulate to your feet, and go barefoot when you can.

When picking socks, look for features like moisture wicking, strategic padding, compression and other things that can keep your feet healthy. There are also special socks for diabetics and those suffering from edema. Dr. Shuman can help you select the socks that suit you.

3. Cut to the Chase

How are you cutting your toenails? One of the most frequent causes of toenail injury is improper grooming. Never cut your toenails at an angle, no matter what your pedicurist or the latest fashion craze says. Always cut toes straight across and avoid cutting along the sides of your toenails.

Avoid injuries to your toe by wearing protective shoes, especially if you’re going to be walking in an environment where rocks, glass, sharp objects or other hazards are lurking. Toe injury can set you up for the infection that causes Onychocryptosis. Always check your feet for signs of infection and call a podiatrist if you suspect your condition is getting worse.

4. Kicked Around

If you regularly play sports that put pressure on your feet, you’re at high risk for getting ingrown toenails. They are common among soccer players, basketball players, kickboxers and football players. These are all sports where the feet are put under a lot of stress.

Ingrown toenails are also common among ballet dancers, who put constant pressure on their toes.

You don’t have to give up the sports or activities you love. You just have to be careful to always wear supportive shoes when you’re off the field. Examine your feet after every session and get regular podiatric exams to ensure your toes are in tip-top shape.

5. Family Matters

You might be more prone to developing ingrown nails if other family members have had them. There is evidence that there may be a genetic predisposition to this condition. You might share a family trait of toenails that have a naturally rounder shape. This can lead to irregular growth of the nail.

That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer this condition. Proper footwear, good hygiene and regular foot checkups will keep the ingrown nails at bay.

Options for Onychocryptosis

Treatment for an ingrown nail varies. It might include:

  • soaking the toe in warm water or an antibiotic solution;
  • applying a plastic or fabric splint to the nail;
  • cutting the nail to encourage straighter growth;
  • surgery to remove the ingrown toenail.

Don’t try these treatments at home. A Loudoun County podiatrist like Dr. Shuman is your best choice for expert treatment and prevention of ingrown nails.

Ingrown toenails are not always serious, but they’re unpleasant, painful and potentially dangerous. If you’re suffering from one, call Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine today and kick that pain goodbye.

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