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Preventing Ingrown Toenail

Many don’t realize the painful foot condition of ingrown toenail is commonly a result of our own doing. In rare cases, suffers may be one of the unlucky few who have inherited the trait involuntarily, but ingrown toenails are usually caused by incorrect nail trimming. Or, commonly, squeezing your toes into ill-fitting shoes. Prevention is simple, and obviously more desirable than treatment after the problem has emerged.

What is it?

An ingrown toenail is one that has embedded itself into the flesh of the toe. The level of discomfort can range from the minor ache of a splinter to agonizing pain. The big toe is the most frequently affected, but all of the toes can be subject to an ingrown nail.

Those with naturally curling or thick nails are more likely to deal with the discomfort of an ingrown nail. Severe cases can grow to be inflamed and ooze puss; without proper treatment, they can eventually lead to infection.

How to prevent them

No need to be fancy. When trimming your nails, cut them evenly, straight across the top. Avoid rounding the nail off, when pressed down by socks, hosiery, or your shoes, a rounded toe nail is more likely to embed itself in the skin. Aiding in your prevention, try to steer away from constricting footwear. In addition to causing ingrown nails, socks that are too tight can cut off your blood’s circulation, which can have long-term complications in the end.

Keep your toenails at a moderate length. Your toenails should be trimmed to be even with the tips of your toes. Nails that are too long are uncomfortable and can pose as a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Also, trimming your nails too short may direct them to grow into the tissue of your nail bed.

Make sure your shoes fit (an important suggestion for those who suffer from sensory nerve damage.) The pressure and pain of shoes that don’t fit properly may go unnoticed. Take notice of the amount of space between your toes and the sides of your shoes. Your feet should be able to wiggle freely without pressing against the tip of the shoe. If you work in a field that poses increased risk of injuring your toes, protective footwear such as steel-toed shoes are a smart investment.

Medical Treatment

In the event of infection, if left untreated, the virus can potentially spread to other parts of the toe and foot. The sooner you visit a doctor, the less invasive the treatment will be. If you have already contacted a podiatrist, soaking your feet in an Epsom salt footbath may relieve the discomfort while you await your appointment. This will minimize the risk of infection while reducing the pressure of the inflamed area. Once clean, thoroughly dry your foot and apply a sterile dressing. Refrain from activity as much as possible, rest is best!

At your visit, your podiatrist may employ a variety of treatments. Most often, the offending piece of nail will be removed and covered with an antiseptic wrap. Local anesthetic may be administered if the toe is too painful to touch. If the patient has involuted nails, the podiatrist may remove the curled portion of the nail before filing down the edges to a smooth, even surface.  Patients experiencing bleeding or discharge, and those with a suspected infection will need to take antibiotics in addition to the removal of the ingrown nail.

To avoid the discomfort and inconvenience, you should maintain care of your feet prior to acquiring ingrown toenail. Those who’ve experience an ingrown nail in the past are already aware of the pain and consequences that come with the condition. Prevent when you can!

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum is a Podiatric Physician and Surgeon serving patients in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.

Do you have questions or concerns?
Call or email today for immediate
answers to your questions.


16244 S. Military Trail #290
Delray Beach, FL 33445


8198 Jog Road #100
Boynton Beach, FL 33472


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