While they can be fun to decorate, toenails, admittedly, aren’t especially practical nowadays, and there’s a certain degree of debate as to why our ancestors needed them as well. One plausible theory is that the highly sensitive skin underneath needed to be protected. This makes sense if you think about that sensitivity being used for detecting things at the ground level, but the sensitive areas still needed a certain degree of protection.
Regardless of their original purpose, the simple facts remain – we still have toenails and they sometimes lead to problems. One of the biggest issues when it comes to these nails is when they become ingrown. Knowing how to stop an ingrown toenail from becoming worse can spare you from a lot of pain and discomfort.
Depending on your situation, you might inadvertently be the one responsible for causing the condition to worsen. Fortunately, we can help you identify factors that contribute to this so you can start taking measures to prevent your ingrown toenail from worsening. These include:
- You are clipping your nails too short. Shorter toenails are not always better. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to keep your nails even with the edge of their respective toes. This is especially important for runners, since repetitive trauma from hitting the front of running shoes can cause nails to grow downward.
- You are rounding off your toenails. Rounded toenails more often become ingrown than those trimmed straight across (when not cut too short). The reason people round off toenails is probably related to the fact we generally round off our fingernails. The key difference, though is that your fingers are not subjected to the same kinds of pressure and forces as are your feet.
- You are wearing tight shoes. Tight footwear—especially models that squash your toes together in the front—can lead to ingrown toenails developing in the first place. The problem doesn’t end there, though. If you keep wearing tight shoes, the ingrown condition will become worse over time.
- You are not protecting your feet. One of the causes of ingrown toenails is physical trauma. This means if you work with heavy items and sometimes drop them on your feet, the toenails are at heightened risk for becoming ingrown. You can reduce the risk of this by wearing safety shoes or steel-toed work boots if your job requires you to frequently move heavy objects.
Sometimes, the ingrown toenail condition and its progression has nothing to do with factors you can control. In some cases, ingrown toenails develop and continue to grow into the soft skin flanking them simply on account of an inherited nail structure. This is especially likely if you have a nail that continually becomes ingrown. When this happens to you, we have procedures to remove the toenail and then prevent it from growing back (which is the only way to resolve this particular situation).
Of course, with all of this being said, the fact remains that you have an ingrown toenail that needs to be addressed. In certain cases, you can take care of this yourself at home. If you catch the ingrown toenail early, or it isn’t particularly severe, you might simply need to follow a routine of soaking your foot, gently lifting the ingrown portion over the skin, and then placing a bit of waxed dental floss underneath. Some people might advocate using cotton, but this can potentially lead to contamination and infection.
If you are unable to successfully address the situation at home, come Foot Specialists of Long Island for professional ingrown toenail treatment. You can contact our Nassau County office online or give us a toll-free call today at (844) 899-8658.