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How Do I Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails can strike for a number of reasons—activity, environment, even genetics. And when they do strike, they can be more than a simple nuisance. Pain, tenderness, swelling, and difficulty wearing shoes can all be part of the problem. In the worst cases, you might get an infection—and that’s especially bad news for those with diabetes or impaired circulation.

So, prevention is the order of the day. But how do you prevent ingrown toenails? That depends on the underlying causes, though the following strategies can be effective if your condition isn’t linked to genetics:

  1. Toenail trimming. You might think that toenail trimming is a no-brainer skill, but you might be doing it wrong! We recommend that you cut a straight edge from corner to corner, and leave the nail with a bit of length on it—about even with the end of the toe. If you cut too short or curve it like you would with your fingernails, you increase the risk of an ingrown nail.

  2. Space in your shoe. Try to avoid tight shoes that pinch and compress in the toe box area. This can push the nails downward into the flesh. Make sure you have plenty of wiggle space, both up and down and side to side.

  3. Protecting your toes. Stubs and crush injuries can often cause ingrown toenails. If you’re participating in physically active hobbies or occupations, make sure you protect yourself with closed-toe shoes (or steel toes if necessary).

Unfortunately, these techniques may not work if there’s a genetic component behind your recurring ingrown toenails. The truth is, some people may simply be predisposed to ingrown toenails, particularly if they’ve inherited particularly curvy nails from their parents.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean a lifetime of suffering! It just means you may require a minor surgical procedure to get the lasting relief you need. After we cut out your ingrown toenail, we can also use a chemical agent to keep the same portion of nail from growing back. This should solve the problem for good.

The bottom line? No matter what’s causing your ingrown toenails, you can stop them from coming back. Schedule an appointment today with Gulf South Foot & Ankle to review your treatment options. You can call the Metairie office at (504) 708-4810, or the Covington office at (985) 809-1464.

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