An ingrown toenail is one of the most painful foot conditions we often bring on ourselves. Although sometimes ingrown toenails are hereditary, they're most often caused by incorrect nail trimming -- and they become even more painful when they're squeezed by shoes that are too short and tight. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can follow to help prevent ingrown toenails.

The best tip for preventing ingrown toenails is: trim your nails straight across the top -- NOT in a rounded shape. In addition, avoid wearing shoes or socks that squeeze your toes together.

If you do get an ingrown toenail, it may cure itself as the nail grows. In the meantime, you can relieve the pain with the steps that follow

  • Switch to longer shoes with a bigger toe box.
  • Soak your foot in a solution of one part povidone iodine to one part water once a day for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.
  • Trim your nails as best you can. Do not try to "dig out" a deeply ingrown nail, however.
  • Apply an antiseptic once a day, preferably after a bath or shower. This is especially important, because one of the greatest dangers of ingrown toenails is the possibility of infection

If an ingrown nail is left untreated or is forced too far into the skin by the pressure of shoes, it may not grow out on its own. The only treatment in this situation is to see a Podiatrist, who can numb the toe and remove the offending portion of the nail permanently.

Brad Schaeffer, D.P.M.
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Dr. Brad Schaeffer is an expert in foot and ankle pain, treatment and surgery. Learn more about our doctor.
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