Anybody who has ever experienced an ingrown toenail knows just how painful these can be. Specifically, an ingrown toenail refers to an infection caused when part of the nail (usually the side) grows into the skin. Some people are more prone to ingrown toenails as a result of genetics, but there are always steps you can take to reduce your chances of experiencing this painful podiatry predicament.
DO Ensure Proper Shoe Fit
Wearing shoes, or even socks, that are too snug can lead to an ingrown toenail. That's because the added pressure squeezes the toes together, making it more likely for a nail to grow into the skin and cause an infection. Make sure the shoes you wear most often are the proper fit (if you have wide feet, shop for wide-toed shoes) and are made of breathable material to reduce infection risk.
DON'T Trim Your Cuticles
Going into your favorite nail salon for a pedicure is a great way to pamper yourself. Just make sure your nail tech knows what he or she is doing. Cutting cuticles back too short can make your nail bed more prone to infection. Gently pushing the cuticles back after a soak in water is harmless enough, but trimming your cuticles really isn't necessary--nor is it good for your nail health.
DO Cut Nails Straight Across
When trimming your nails at home, the best way to do it is to trim straight across rather than in a rounded shape. This will help reduce your chances of experiencing an ingrown nail. Furthermore, be careful not to trim your nails too short, as this will increase the chances of your nail growing into the nail bed and leading to a painful infection. It's better to trim your nails a small amount a couple times per week than it is to cut them extremely short less often.
DON'T Ignore Early Signs
Finally, be aware of the early signs of an ingrown toenail, such as pain, inflammation, and redness around the nail. If you experience early signs, try soaking your affected toenail in an Epsom salt bath for a few minutes each day. This can help reduce inflammation while also encouraging the nail to grow out normally. If the pain and swelling doesn't reside, however, you'll want to visit a podiatrist, like one at Accurate Foot & Diabetic Care, sooner rather than later. He or she will be able to numb the toe and remove the affected area of the nail.