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Why You Keep Getting Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown Toenail
An ingrown toenail happens when the corner of the toenail curls inward and begins to dig into the skin surrounding the toe. Ingrown toenails are painful and can get infected easily. Common in every toe (but most likely to occur in the big toe), an ingrown toenail can be difficult to get rid of and can recur even after it's been dug out.

Never attempt to remove an ingrown toenail on your own because your feet harbor a large variety of fungi and bacteria (around 100 species of fungi are known to thrive on feet) and infection can set in quickly from self-care. Instead, call your podiatrist to assist you with your ingrown toenail and use this guide to learn why you keep getting this painful condition in the first place.

Cutting Your Toenails Incorrectly

Toenails that are cut too short can cause ingrown toenails as the nails start to grow out again. Your toenails can also become ingrown if you cut them incorrectly - rounding off your toenail edges (as you may shape your fingernails) makes ingrown toenails more likely. Cut your toenails in a straight line - that's even with your toe tip - to keep your nails growing correctly.

Toenail Damage 

Stubbing your toe or accidentally bending your toenail back can lead to an ingrown toenail as well. This occurs if the nail is deformed or if the surrounding skin swells up. See your podiatrist for treatment after damaging your toe so your nail can be properly conditioned to grow out properly and keep ingrown nails from forming.


Wearing shoes that fit too tightly around your toes can cause ingrown toenails because your toes constantly jam into the ends of your shoes. Likewise, shoes that are too large (allowing your feet to move back and forth within your footwear) can also cause ingrown toenails.

Wear shoes with a wide toe bed that allows you to comfortably wiggle your toes; the right footwear will help you keep your toes in healthy condition.

Socks and stockings can cause ingrown toenails as well by restricting your feet. Wear socks that are form-fitted but not tight enough to stiffen or curl your toes.

Small Toes 

Sometimes toes are small and don't have a large nail bed to keep a toenail growing healthily. A too-small toe can become afflicted with recurring ingrown nails no matter what you do to keep them at bay. Your podiatrist may remove a portion of your affected toenail permanently to allow your toe to feel relief - this procedure typically requires a general anesthetic for comfort.

When you get an ingrown toenail, don't pick at the area. Keep your red and swollen skin as clean as possible. Soaking your foot in Epsom salt water for several minutes at a time can help relieve pressure and pain (and keep infection at bay). An infected ingrown toenail may be hot to the touch, be very red and swollen, and can even produce blood or pus. Call your podiatrist right away if your ingrown toenail is infected.

Ingrown toenails are very common and can be easily treated. If you are diabetic you can be especially prone to infection or other foot trauma due to an ingrown toenail, so don't hesitate to receive professional care.

Your podiatrist will remove your ingrown toenail and prescribe antibiotics or pain medication to help you heal from the affliction. Your feet are important for your overall health, so come to see us at Instride Family Foot & Ankle Center for help. We will examine your feet and give you a custom treatment plan to help keep ingrown toenails from returning; call us today.