Preventing Ingrown Toenails


Ingrown toenails are a common condition that we treat often at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC. Many time patients will ask us, “Is there a way to prevent this irritating condition?” The answer is yes and no. There are some factors that make you more likely to get an ingrown toenail that you can’t do anything about. These include:

·         Hereditary predisposition to ingrown nails

·         An injury or trauma to the nail such as occurs when you bang your toe into a piece of furniture or a heavy item falls on it

·         Another existing nail condition like a fungal toenail infection

There are, however, some causes of ingrown toenails that you can most definitely control, such as:

·         Footwear choice—wearing shoes, socks or hosiery that are too tight can force toes up against one another for long periods of time, creating the ideal situation for the nail to start to grow down and back into the nail bed.

·         Not trimming nails properly—if you cut your nails very short, it is much easier for the skin on the edge of your nail to begin to grow over it. The nail in turn will continue to grow directly into the skin. Nails also need to be cut straight across, not with curved edges because, again, this encourages the nail to grow into the skin.

Signs of an Ingrown Nail

Ingrown nails can be quite painful. You will most likely see that the area around your nail is red and swollen and may appear hot and very tender to the touch. If the nail has actually punctured the skin, an infection can develop causing pus or other drainage around the infected toenail that may have a foul odor.

In its very early stages, you can try soaking your foot in warm water and Epsom salts several times a day to soften the skin and attempt to ease the nail out. If it is already red and painful, however, or if there are any signs of infection, one of our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight and Dr. Marzana Mleczko, will need to treat the nail. A short and relatively painless procedure can remove part of the nail border. If you have an ingrown nail, contact our Valley Stream (516-825-4070) or Lake Success (516-327-0074) office and get relief fast.