Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Prevent ingrowing toenails

Ingrown toenail or onychocryptosis as it is also known occurs when your toenail grows into the sides of the nail. These can be extremely painful but usually avoidable. Here are our top tips for preventing ingrown toenails.

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Wear appropriate footwear

  • Footwear should be the correct size and not too tight or loose.
  • Running shoes should suit your foot type and running style.
  • Worn out sports shoes should be replaced. Running shoes are usually good for 400 miles or 6 months before they need replacing.

Read more about choosing running shoes.


Appropriate nail trimming

  • Prepare by washing your hands and feet, making sure they are dry.
  • Have the correct tool for use; nail clippers or manicure scissors can be used.
  • Make sure you cut your nails regularly.
  • Cut nails straight across the top. Avoid cutting down the sides (apart from a little rounded at the edges). This encourages your nail to grown back down the sides, into the skin, rather than outwards at the top.
  • You should cut the opaque area (off-white) only and not take too much of the nail away.

No nail picking ( poor foot hygiene)

  • An infected ingrown toenail can be caused by picking, especially if you have not washed your hands properly.
  • When you pick your toenails, the nail will not be straight and therefore may grow down into the skin.
  • Also, if you pick your nail the skin bed and nail become tethered, more of the nail is taken away than necessary causing your skin to fold over.
  • Keeping your feet clean and free from fungal infections and dry will help prevent toenail problems.

Reduce repetitive trauma and stress

  • Stress to the nail bed or toes can cause ingrowing toenails.
  • Repeated trauma through long distance running, being stamped on, stubbing your toe or slowing from a sprint too quickly causes the nail or surrounding tissue to become inflamed.

Improve your running style

  • A poor gait patterning when walking or running can cause more stress to your nail, skin or the nail bed.
  • Appropriate strengthening, or using Orthotic inserts in your shoes to help correct foot biomechancis may be needed. This will not only reduce excessive loads to your toes which may causing ingrown toenails, but shoud increase performance and help avoid other injuries as well.

Read more on foot biomechanics and gait analysis.


Reduce any swelling in your feet

  • Swelling through acute or chronic trauma can cause an ingrowing toenail.
  • Appropriate measures to prevent or reduce swelling should be undertaken.
  • Apply ice or cold therapy if your toe is swollen and raise your foot to help drain tissue fluids away.
  • Treat any infection you may have which is causing your nail to swell.
  • If you are overweight or obese then this increases the likelyhood of sustaining an ingrown toenail.

Treat injury

  • If an injury has occurred which affects the load, changes foot biomechanics produces swelling or puts an altered strain on the toe or toes it should be treated as soon as possible.
  • This will reduce your chances of getting an ingrowing toenail.

Foot deformities

  • If you have a foot deformity (Bunion for example), or a foot deformity is worsening, it is important to seek professional advice so it can be corrected, or prevented from worsening.
  • Deformities should be checked if they are new, but also regularly checked if they are worsening in any way. This is because loading of the foot and toes may have changed which can cause ingrowing toenails.

Read more on how to treat an ingrowing toenail.

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