Tight Shoes Can Lead to Ingrown Toenails

You probably already know that shoes play an important role in protecting feet and keeping them safe. But were you aware that ill-fitting footwear can cause a host of issues for your lower limbs?

It’s true!

Shoes shouldn’t be either too loose or too tight. When you wear a pair that is too loose, you are at risk for blisters or biomechanical issues from a heel that isn’t securely cradled. When shoes are too tight, your risk of developing a painful ingrown toenail will also increase.

Why? We are glad you asked! Let’s talk a little bit more about this annoying issue.

Tight Shoes and Ingrown Toenails

The starting point for ingrown toenails actually stems from improper trimming practices.

Now, you’re probably thinking: I thought it was tight-fitting shoes that caused ingrown toenails. And, it often is. But the way you cut your toenails is also an important contributing factor for developing this problem.

Cutting your nails too short and rounding the edges can cause the nail to grow back into the surrounding soft tissue, usually because of undue pressure from shoes that crowd the toes – but more on that in a bit.

That’s why, when clipping your toenails, you should cut them straight across (no rounding!) and make sure they aren’t too short. A reasonable length to strive for is keeping them roughly even with the edge of their respective toes.

Other reasons why ingrown toenails may develop include:

  • Trauma to the foot. Trauma in general can cause ingrown toenails, from stubbing or jamming to repeated pressure.
  • Foot deformities. For some people, ingrown toenails can be hereditary. If your toes are too small in comparison to your nails, or if your nails are naturally curved and/or thick, you may suffer from reoccurring ingrown toenails.

So where do shoes come into play?

Problems happen when toenails are cut short and then feet are placed into shoes that are too tight in the front. This causes the big toe to be pressed against the second. The abnormal pressure on the big toe’s nail forces it to become ingrown.

Next thing you know, wearing shoes at all becomes a painful experience, and you may not even be able to participate in your favorite activities until the problem has been resolved. So, what can you do to keep this from happening?

We have some tips for you.

Choosing the Right Shoes

To reduce your risk of developing a painful ingrown toenail, simply choose shoes that do not cause your toes to feel pinched or cramped.

The shoes you chose to wear can actually head off many other foot problems – not just ingrown toenails. From heel pain to ankle instability, properly fitting shoes can prevent a lot of painful situations.

When looking for the perfect pair of shoes, look for these features:

  • Toe box with plenty of room for toes to wiggle freely
  • Materials that are breathable (and even moisture-wicking)
  • Cushion and protection for the heels
  • Enough support for the arches

With these tips, we certainly hope you are able to avoid painful ingrown toenails (and all other more-than-inconvenient foot and ankle problems), but if you do happen to develop one, you can easily try addressing the problem at home with some simple steps.

Treating Ingrown Toenails at Home

All you have to do is fill a basin with warm water and soak your foot for about 20 minutes, 2-3 times per day. You can add some Epsom salts, but try to not go overboard with additives – you never know what might end up stinging and irritation the injury.

By soaking the ingrown toenail, the skin and nail giving you grief should soften, and this can help relieve some of the pain and swelling you may be experiencing.

Once you have finished soaking your foot, thoroughly pat them dry, paying special attention to the areas between your toes. Then, apply some antibiotic cream to the area to help avoid possible infections. You should also loosely bandage the toe to help protect it from bumps and jostles of the day, as well as wear open-toe shoes to avoid putting pressure on the area.

Now, you should keep in mind that if you are diabetic, or if you are in a lot of pain and there appears to be an infection, then your best course of action is to visit our office right away.

Something else to consider is that, if you have a toenail that repeatedly becomes ingrown, it might not have anything to do with your footwear at all. And cases like these will often only go away with professional treatment, like permanent removal of the nail.

We also have other treatment options from which you may benefit as well.

Let Us Provide the Relief You Need Today

When conservative, home treatments just don’t seem to be providing the relief you need, we can help you get rid of your ingrown toenail here at our Wilks Advanced Foot Care.

If you want more information on this pesky condition, or if you are ready to request an appointment for professional treatment, simply contact our office by calling (541) 673-0742.

We are here to help you!

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