Gross, But Here's How to Handle an Ingrown Toenail Like a Boss

I reached out to a board certified podiatry surgeon to get your ingrown toenail cheat sheet.
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Publish date:
November 7, 2016
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feet, ingrown toenail, foot care, Podiatrists

Foot stuff is often sensitive. I, for one, would prefer to not acknowledge my feet. The appendage in general freaks me out, and I feel like most of the time feet are just pretty unsightly. I do, however, want to keep my feet looking as good as I possibly can (despite the fact that I wear uncomfortable shoes for the sake of vanity and choose to walk everywhere). That being said, there are certain things that are beyond your basic toenail clippings (ew) and a couple of coats of polish. For example, ingrown toenails. They're ugly, they're uncomfortable, and can be a little grody. Who wants to talk about that?

Not I, said the mouse. But I did it anyway, because we all deserve a life without ingrowns, and the only way we can know how is to go to a pro. So we reached out to Dr. Gary Evans, Board Certified Podiatry Surgeon and founder of daniPro nail polish, to get your ingrown toenail cheat sheet, for lack of a better term.

What are ingrown toenails exactly?

"The ingrown toenail is one of the most common toe problems I treat. As the name implies, an ingrown toenail occurs when one or both sides of the toenail margin grows 'in' to the adjacent skin margin," says Dr. Evans. "When this occurs, it could lead to an infection, swelling, redness, and PAIN."

Ugh, definitely been there, am I right?

But why do we get them? There are a number of reasons, the first being even if your toenails are healthy and grow straight, induced pressure, such as shoe pressure from tight footwear, can cause inward growth of toenails. Improperly trimming your toenails is another biggie.

Your toenails should grow straight across from end to end.

"At times people like to cut in the corner of the toenail thinking they are avoiding an ingrown toenail, but they are actually creating one," says Dr. Evans.

Other reasons you could get an ingrown toenail could be trauma, such as having an object fall on your toenail, or even repetitive actions such as running, soccer, or other athletic activities that impact your toes. This can cause a change in growth pattern, causing it to grow into the skin. And lastly, some times it's just good old genetics that cause you to inherit this nuisance on your toesies.

Now you probably want to know how you can stop this irritating life reality. As Dr. Evans explained, your toenails should be cut straight across and shouldn't be any longer than the tip of your toe. He says to avoid cutting into the corners, and if you feel a sharp edge, use a nail file.

You probably won't like this, but if you really want to avoid ingrowns, you should be avoiding shoes that cramp your toes or are too narrow in the toe area. Dr. Evans' rule is if you remove your shoe and see redness around your toenails, your shoe is too tight. Guilty.

But what if you already have said life nuisance?

"If you believe you have a problematic ingrown toenail, I recommend soaking your foot in warm salt water or warm salty, soapy water. Apply topical antibiotic ointment and a bandage, but do not make the bandage to tight," says Dr. Evans.

"This should be followed by an appointment to your podiatrist for further evaluation and proper treatment."

It should also be noted that if you have diabetes or other systemic health issues, you should see a doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.

This post originally appeared on instyle.com/mimi: Gross, But Here's How to Handle an Ingrown Toenail Like a BossOther Mimi stories you might be into: