Growing In The Wrong Direction

Toenails usually grow straight out and need to be trimmed every so often. Sometimes, the sides of the toenail curve and start to grow towards the skin instead of over. These are known as ingrown nails. Ingrown toenails are common, with 1 in 5 persons facing the problem. While most cases are mild, some ingrown nails pierce the skin, causing pain, inflammation, and infection. Severe cases may even need a nail excision or removal of the nail.

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The reason for your ingrown nail

Most cases of ingrown toenails come from the improper trimming of the nail. Giving toenails a curved shape encourages growth toward the skin. Nail injuries, especially in sports, and excess pedicures can also cause ingrown toenails. Some doctors believe the condition to be hereditary. Most ingrown toenails have home remedies. But as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are 4 tips to keep pesky ingrown nails at bay.

1. Trim those nails well

Proper nail trimming is the best way to prevent ingrown nails. Make sure to cut the nails straight across. Then smooth the sharp edges with a nail file or emery board. Avoid cutting the nails short, curving the nails, or cutting at an angle.

2. Focus on footwear

Tight shoes squeeze the nails, encouraging growth in the wrong direction. Shoes with narrow toe boxes like high heels can cause ingrown toenails. Wear proper socks and shoes with a wide enough toe box.

3. Give your nails some breathing room

Speaking of shoes, some activities like ballet, football, and soccer have tight footwear. Persons who participate in these activities are more likely to develop ingrown nails. Make sure to give the feet some breathing room afterward. Feet that sweat excessively can soften the nails too, so the more air, the better.

4. Care for the cuticles

The cuticle is a layer of skin along the edges of the nail. Cuticles protect the nails and prevent bacteria from entering. Removing the cuticle can cause ingrown toenails and increases the chances of bacteria. Practice proper cuticle care. Persons getting a pedicure should also tell the nail technician not to remove the skin.

Time for a nail excision

There are a few effective home remedies for ingrown toenails. With the right treatment, most persons will not need a doctor. If left untreated, a doctor will provide antibiotics to help with an infection. In severe cases, doctors will consider surgery if the ingrown nail reoccurs and affects the quality of life. Using a nail excision, the doctor removes part or all of the nail folds. In some cases, the doctor removes the nail matrix as well, preventing regrowth. The procedure is effective in treating the condition but is usually reserved for severe cases.

Care for your nails the right way

Someone with an ingrown toenail can correct the issue, often without medical intervention. However, if left untreated, inflammation and infection can happen. For painful, recurring ingrown toenails, seek medical help. Chances are a simple nail excision could be all that’s needed for a better quality of life.

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