If you have ingrown toenails, you know how painful they can become after a long day of standing or wearing shoes that press on them. You can often "live with" mildly ingrown toenails, rather than having your nails surgically removed, as you may need to do if they're more severe and prone to infection. However, that does not mean that you don't need to be vigilant about caring for your ingrown nails. You'll want to ensure they stay pain-free and don't get any worse. Here are three ways to do just that.
Be very careful when buying shoes.
When you have ingrown toenails, you don't have the luxury of walking into the shoe store and just buying any pair that looks attractive. Try all of your shoes on before you buy them, and make sure they don't put any pressure on the affected toe. Even the slightest bit of pressure could make your ingrown nails painful and more severe if you wear the shoes for a long time. Buying shoes that are just a bit wider than what you really need is a good way to reduce the pressure they place on your toes. For instance, if your foot is a "B" width, you may want to start purchasing "C" width shoes. Buying shoes ½ size bigger also works for some people.
Soak your feet in Epsom salts several times per week.
A big concern with ingrown toenails is that they could become infected. After all, that toenail is digging into your skin and essentially causing a perpetual wound. Once your nail becomes infected, you may have no choice but to have it deeply trimmed or entirely removed by your podiatrist. Thus, it's better to prevent infections in the first place by soaking your food in Epsom salts a few times per week. Just toss a generous handful of the salts into a warm tub of water, and let your foot soak for about 20 minutes. The salt will kill bacteria and draw excess inflammation out of your toe, reducing your risk of infection while also keeping pain at bay.
Trim your nails properly.
Don't attempt to dig your ingrown nails out by yourself. Just keep trimming them straight across – if you follow this tip and the others on this list, they may eventually correct themselves. If they don't, you'll need to have a podiatrist trim them for you, so you don't accidentally make matters worse. Always sanitize your clippers and any other tools you use to trim your nails before and after using them, so you don't infect your ingrown nails. Dipping them in a little rubbing alcohol is the easiest way to do this.
Mild ingrown nails don't always require any treatment beyond the management tactics above. However, if you find that yours are perpetually painful or think they may be getting worse, contact Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC or a similar organization.