Why Does My Ingrown Toenail Keep Coming Back?
It may be small in size, but an ingrown toenail can make a very big dent in your day. Just what it sounds like, an ingrown toenail—the medical name is onychocryptosis–is a nail that has grown beyond the nail bed and is curling into the fleshy part of your toe, making your toe painful, hot and swollen, and creating the conditions that can lead to inflammation and infection. Once an ingrown toenail takes hold it’s very hard to walk without wincing, and at its worst a toe can become sensitive to any kind of pressure, throbbing painfully even at the weight of sheets and blankets at night.
Once you’ve experienced the pain of an ingrown toenail you don’t want it to return. Toenails can be forced out of their normal growth pattern by an injury, improper trimming, or by habitually wearing shoes that are too tight and crowd the toes. If you have simply stubbed your toe or had some other trauma to the toe the condition will most likely correct itself once the ingrown section of the nail has been trimmed off, but if the ingrown toenail keeps coming back chances are you need to fix the conditions that caused the problem in the first place:
- Wear comfortable shoes with plenty of room in the toe box, and avoid wearing heels so high that your toes are crowded downward. If you play sports or walk a lot it is particularly important that you pay attention to your footwear.
- Trim your toenails with care—keep the nails short, but no shorter than the edge of the toe. Cut the nails straight across without rounded corners.
- Keep your feet clean and dry. Moisture trapped in shoes can soften the nail and cause the skin underneath to swell, eventually increasing the curvature of the nail so that it begins to bite into the flesh below.
There may also be factors out of your control that are contributing to your susceptibility to ingrown toenails. Heredity can play a part; diabetes or any other condition that lessens the flow of blood to your feet may also make you more susceptible to ingrown toenails. No matter what originally caused the condition you will want to be proactive as soon as you notice it is there—the earlier you treat it the sooner you’ll get relief and the less likely that it will turn into a serious infection. Switch to sandals or open-toed shoes to take the pressure off your toes, and soak the affected foot in warm water three or four times a day (dry your foot thoroughly with a clean towel after each soaking). You can also gently clip away the visible nail near the inflamed part of your toe, rub on some antibiotic cream, and cushion the toe with a slip-on toe separator. If you treat the toe and don’t see an improvement in two or three days it may be time to see your podiatrist for an evaluation. Triad Foot & Ankle Center has three convenient locations to serve your foot and ankle care needs. Click here to request an appointment or call 336-375-6990.
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