An ingrown toe nail is serious business! Seriously painful, that is. It’s when your toe nail curves and grows, you guessed it, right into your skin. OUCH! The site can get red, swollen and hurt enough to make you limp. Sometimes, infections occur too and then pus makes an appearance with even more pain. If the nail grows too deep into your skin, you may have to visit a doctor to set things right. Why let it get to all of that?
How to Prevent Ingrown Toe Nails
Your best course of action is to prevent an ingrown toe nail in the first place. Fortunately, the prevention part is really simple.
Choose Comfortable Footwear
Don’t wear shoes that squeeze your toes in together (such as those with pointy toes). Such shoes literally push your toes into your skin, thus encouraging growth in that direction. The same goes for socks, wear a pair that is your size. The effect of too-tight socks is not as bad as that of pointy, tight shoes, but they are best avoided if you are prone to ingrown nails.
Proper Nail Care
- Most of us like to cut our toe nails in a curve so that they look pretty. But forget the fancy shapes if you want to prevent ingrown toe nails. Cutting your nails in a curve can encourage them to grow inward. Instead, just cut them in a straight line and leave the sides just as they are. Yes, we know how hard it can be not to clip those edges off too, but be strong! Once you are done clipping your nails, file them to soften the newly-cut edges. This will greatly reduce your chances of developing ingrown toe nails since the harder the nail, the easier it is to penetrate the skin.
- Also, don’t cut your nails too short. If you cut them too close to the nail bed, the edges will be pushed into the skin when you wear closed shoes and this will increase your risk for ingrown nails. If you have a habit of cutting too close to the skin, then try filing down your nails instead of clipping them so you’re not tempted to cut them too close. You can file them regularly so that they don’t grow more than you are comfortable with and the filing will prevent you from getting your nails too short.
- If you have particularly hard toe nails, cut your nails after a bath. If your nails prove tough to tackle even then, apply some cuticle remover on your nails and the skin around your nails and give it another go after about ten minutes.
- When you are done cutting your nails, pamper your feet in a rich moisturizer or even good ol’ Vaseline. This will make both the skin and nails softer and prevent ingrown toe nails. If you don’t want to moisturize your whole foot, just do the toes.
- Finally, make sure that you keep your feet clean as much as possible. If you’re wearing open-toed shoes and your feet get dusty and dirty, wash them when you get a chance. Don’t forget to dry them properly too. This is so that on the off chance that you get an ingrown toe nail, infection does not set in from exposure to the prevailing dirt.
Soak Your Feet in Warm Water
If you aren’t already pampering yourself with a warm foot soak once a week, here’s a reason to start. Soaking your feet in warm water with some Epsom salts thrown in will soften your feet and also soften your nails. Hard toe nails are more prone to growing inward because, as we mentioned earlier, they are strong enough to break the skin surface and penetrate deeper. By soaking your feet on a regular basis, you’ll reduce your risk for ingrown toe nails in the long run. Don’t forget to moisturize after.