How Not To Get Ingrown Toenails This Winter

Ugh.
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Helen
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Ugh.
how to prevent and treat ingrown toenails

Happy toes. 

A few years ago, I had an excruciating ingrown toenail that had to be cut out by a podiatrist. This is not an experience I want to repeat. Ever. 

But winter is coming... The season of boots, heavy socks, tights, and closed-toe shoes is a perfect storm for ingrown toenails. As the old adage goes: prevention is better than cure. So here are my tips for preventing (and treating) ingrown toenails.

Cut Your Toenails Straight Across 

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before: trim your nails straight across and not in a rounded shape, and don’t cut them too short. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. I’ve always stuck to this cutting method, but sometimes the corners are a bit sharp so I file them down slightly.

Don't Wear Shoes That Squish Your Toes 

Beauty knows now pain (for me, at least), but I choose shoes that are beautiful AND comfortable in order to prevent ingrown toenails. I can feel the pressure of my nail against my skin when I wear snug heels, so I try to avoid wearing tight shoes that squeeze my toes together.

Let Your Feet Breathe

Always keep your feet clean and dry and let your toes get as much air as possible. This is easy to do in the summer, but in the winter I just want to wear socks all day. Still, as cold as it may be, after showering I let my feet breathe for an hour or two before sticking my toes into a pair of socks.

How To Treat An Ingrown Toenail

If addressed early, an ingrown toenail can be remedied without a visit to the podiatrist. Here's how I care for an ingrown toenail caught in its early stage. 

  •  Soak toes in warm salt water for about 15 minutes. This will help reduce pain and inflammation, as well as soften the skin around the nail. 
  • After soaking, skin will be soft enough that you can gently pull it away from the nail. I usually do this using a small, clean nail file.
  • Once the toe is clean and dry, apply an over-the-counter antiseptic cream to prevent infection. 

With an ingrown toenail already in place, comfortable or open shoes are a necessity. Your toes need a lot of room; added pressure will only worsen the condition. REMEMBER: do not cut your nails until the nail has grown out, and then remember to cut it straight across. If your ingrown toenail persists or gets infected, get it checked out immediately.  

Do you suffer from ingrown toenails? Any tips to add.