Typically seen in the big toenail, ingrown toenails occur when your toenail grows into the skin rather than straight out from your toes. What begins as minor discomfort can at worst, turn into a serious infection such as cellulitis or simply become a recurring issue for you to deal with.
Athletes, especially those that do sports with lots of starting and stopping such as tennis or soccer, as well as adolescents tend to have a higher incidence of ingrown toenails. They sweat more, making nails and skin to be soft, which can lead to a thin nail splitting and penetrating the softened skin. Ingrown toenails can also be caused by ill-fitting shoes, either too big or too small, improper nail and foot care, overly aggressive pedicures or nail picking, over-pronation or simply from hereditary conditions.
Signs and symptoms can include, but aren’t limited to:
Sometimes ingrown toenails clear themselves up if they aren’t too severe and you keep your feet clean and dry. Conventional treatments can include soaking your foot, keeping it at elevation, ensuring proper nail care and hygiene, as well as good foot hygiene.
You don’t necessarily always need medical treatment unless the infection has spread or worsens and then you may have to take oral antibiotics. If you find that your toenails are a recurring issue or have become more trouble than you can handle at home, a health care professional can perform a minor toenail procedure for you.
As with most toe or foot conditions, avoid shoes that are too small or too large as they can both cause pressure and impacts on your toenails. If you have recurring ingrown toenails, you may want to wear open-toed shoes, or sandals if you can. Ensuring you have good foot and nail hygiene will also help - using clean scissors or nail clippers and not trimming your nails too short. If you need to, always make sure you’re wearing your orthotics to keep your feet’s mechanics in good working order to avoid pressure on certain parts of your feet. If you’re an athlete, make sure you’re wearing the right shoes for the activity you’re doing and replace them as needed.
If you think you may have an ingrown toenail, call the Edmonton Foot Health Centre and we can book you in for an appointment to talk to one of our expert staff about treatment for it or any other foot issues that may be bothering you.