You know we expect an awful lot from our feet. We walk, run and jump on them. We cram them into socks and shoes. We use them to stand a little taller. We subject them to sand, rocks and heaven knows what hazards they endure while walking barefoot in our homes. Then we complain bitterly when they hurt. Makes sense to me.
Want to talk about foot pain? Talk about an ingrown toenail. Also known as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnatus (I dare you to pronounce those words) an ingrown toenail occurs when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end or side of the toe. Although it can happen to any toe, it’s most likely to be your big toe.
An ingrown toenail can be the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running.
The most common cause of ingrown toenails is incorrect trimming. Cutting your nails too short encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail. Another cause of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are tight or short. Certain nail conditions are often associated with ingrown toenails. For example, if you have had a toenail fungal infection or if you have lost a nail through trauma, you are at greater risk for developing an ingrown toenail.
Treatment of Ingrown Toenails
If you don’t have an infection or any medical conditions that may affect your healing, you can soak your foot in room-temperature water with Epsom salts, and gently massage the side of the nail fold to help irrigate the area.
Avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. If your symptoms fail to improve, make an appointment with The Podiatrist.
Home treatment is strongly discouraged if you suspect you have an infection, or if you have a medical condition that puts your feet at high risk, for example diabetes, nerve damage in the foot, or poor circulation.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by following these two important tips:
•Trim your nails properly. Cut your toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. You should be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail.
•Avoid poorly-fitting shoes. Don’t wear shoes that are short or tight in the toe box. Also avoid shoes that are loose, because they too cause pressure on the toes, especially when you run or walk briskly.
Myth Busting – Ingrown Toenails!
Myth: Cutting a “V” in the nail will reduce the tendency for the nail to curve downward.
Truth: Cutting a “V” does not affect the growth of the toenail. New nail growth occurs from the nail bed and will continue to grow in whatever shape the nail bed is in.
Myth: Repeated trimming of the nail borders is a good way to treat ingrown toenails.
Truth: Repeated nail trimming fails to correct future nail growth and can make the condition worse.
Myth: Cotton placed under the nail will relieve the pain.
Truth: Cotton placed under the nail can be harmful. It can easily harbour bacteria and encourage infection.
Myth: You can buy effective ingrown toenail treatments at the Pharmacy or Chemist.
Truth: Over-the-counter topical medications may mask the pain, but they fail to address the underlying problem.
Get started on resolving your foot problem today.
Visit The Podiatrist for all your foot care needs