You might not think much about your toenails apart from an occasional pedicure, but toenail issues aren’t that uncommon. Runners may experience blackened nails, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other toenail problems include fungal infections and ingrown nails.
Ingrown toenails are particularly bothersome as they cause pain and tenderness and can quickly become infected if they’re left untreated.
The good news is that properly trimming your toenails is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of ingrown nails. Below, our team of specialists at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, with offices in Midtown or Downtown Manhattan, provide their top tips for toenail care.
Clipping your toenails to avoid an ingrown nail
Trimming your toenails too short or in a curved fashion can increase your risk of developing an ingrown nail. Likewise, avoiding trimming your toenails can also cause problems. Long nails can lead to accidental scratches, which can be especially problematic if you’re prone to slow-healing wounds.
The key is to find the right cadence in your nail-trimming sessions. Since toenails grow an average of 2 millimeters each month, aim to trim your nails every six weeks.
Here’s how to clip your nails properly:
- Use nail clippers designed for toenails
- To prevent the spread of fungal infections, never share nail clippers
- Never cut your nails when they’re soft or wet (such as after a bath) as this can increase your risk of tearing or bending your nail
- Trim your toenails straight across, keeping the edge in line with the end of your nail bed
- Don’t cut your toenails into a curved shape
Once your toenails are trimmed, inspect the edges. Smooth away any rough or jagged spots with an emery board. Once you’re done, wash and dry your nail clippers.
Preventing and treating ingrown toenails
Even if you’ve trimmed your toenails properly, it’s still possible to develop an ingrown nail. That’s because improperly trimming your toenails isn’t the only cause of ingrown nails. Other potential causes include wearing ill-fitting shoes, injuring your toenail, and anatomical differences, such as naturally curved toenails.
You can reduce your risk of nail problems by trimming your toenails properly, wearing well-fitting shoes, and addressing any foot conditions, such as infections, as they arise.
While some ingrown toenails resolve themselves at home with warm foot soaks, it’s important to skip at-home treatments if you have diabetes or an active infection. Diabetes can contribute to poor circulation and nerve damage in your feet. Coupled with an ingrown toenail, these serious complications increase your risk of gangrene.
If your ingrown toenail is severe, you might start to see the signs of infection 一 increasing pain, redness, swelling, and pus. Treatment may include antibiotics and the removal of part of your nail.
Some people struggle with recurrent ingrown nails, and if you’re one of them, your Manhattan Podiatry Associates provider may recommend toenail surgery to remove the nail root on the ingrown side of your nail.
Suspect you have an ingrown nail? You don't need to wait for it to get worse before you seek help. To learn more about ingrown nail treatment, call our New York City location closest to you today. Or simply reserve an appointment online.