An ingrown toenail is a painful condition that most people will experience in their lifetime. The condition, which causes pain, redness, swelling and infection, occurs when the corner of the toenail becomes embedded in the soft flesh of the toe. While the condition can affect any toe, it is most common in the big toe. Fortunately, ingrown toenails are, for the most part, entirely preventable if you learn to take care of your nails properly. Following are four bad grooming habits you should avoid if you don't want an ingrown toenail.
Some people let their nails grow too long before they trim them or trim them excessively so they're always short. Both approaches are wrong. Since everyone's nails grows at a different rate, you have to pay attention to your nail growth and trim your nails on a schedule that's right for you. It's also best to avoid removing a large amount of nail at each trimming. Each time your nail extends beyond the end of your toe, trim a little bit off.
Short toenails are a no-no because they can work their way into the flesh of your toe as they grow. For this reason, you should never cut your toenails shorter than the tips of your toes. If you don't have a free edge, the white part of your nail where it's not connected to anything, you're cutting your nails too short.
Unlike fingernails, which are filed into a variety of shapes, such as oval, square and pointed, toenails only have one proper shape: square. You should always cut them so that they are straight across. If the edges of your nails dip, protrude or deviate from the straight line at all, you're at risk for an ingrown toenail. If you file your nails to remove sharp edges, take care not to round them. Round edges allow the fleshy parts of your toe to balloon around the edges of your nail while you walk.
Some people ignore their feet until they notice a problem or a little pain when they walk. Inspect your toenails regularly for signs of an ingrown toenail. If you have sensitivity issues due to diabetes or a foot injury, you may want to inspect your toes more often, daily if necessary.
If you catch an ingrown toenail early enough, you can usually pull it out of the skin and clean it with an antiseptic. However, extreme cases require medical attention from professionals such as Lincoln Park Podiatry, which may include surgery and prescription antibiotics.