Pressure on Toes and Curled-in Nails

You probably have had an ingrown toenail at some point in your life. The problem usually occurs in your great toe, and it can really put a damper on your enjoyment of spring events like the Downtown Chandler Art Walk, or rooting for your favorite bovine contestant at the Cow Chip Bingo.

What is an ingrown toenail, exactly? It’s a nail that has grown sideways or down into the soft flesh around it and irritated the tissue. First comes the redness, then discomfort or pain, and then—if the nail pierces the skin—possible infection.

It’s not a pretty sight when the skin around your nails is oozing yellow or green pus! The good news is there are some things you can do to make this less likely:

  • First, wear shoes that don’t pinch your toes. Pressure against the nail is one reason why it grows the wrong way.
  • Second, watch how you (or your pedicurists) trim your toenails. Cutting them too short or with rounded off corners allows the skin and flesh to be pressed farther toward the nail.
  • Third, keep them safe. If you work with heavy equipment, wear steel-toed boots. If you run to stay fit, wear shoes that don’t jam your toes. And please—don’t hike in flip-flops!
  • Finally, if you inherited unusually curved nails or have deformities like bunions, your toes may be prone to ingrowing. Keep an eagle eye on them and get help at the first sign of trouble.

If you already have an issue, you may be able to take care of it yourself at home by soaking your foot in lukewarm water mixed with certain amounts of vinegar or Epsom salts and gently rolling back the overgrown skin and flesh to relieve the pressure. You may be able to lift the softened nail and put a bit of clean dental floss or cotton under it to help it grow straighter. If these are good options for you, we’ll show you how to do them.

However, if you have diabetes, arthritis, or circulation problems, we encourage you not to try too many of these home remedies for ingrown nails, especially not picking or cutting at them. You’ll risk infection and other serious problems that could threaten your toe and foot. Instead, call Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona and set up an appointment for our foot experts to take care of it. You can reach our office at (480) 963-9000.

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