Ingrown toenail: You big toe’s worst enemy


An ingrown toenail, also called onychocryptosis, is the result of the corner or the side of a nail growing into the toe’s flesh. The pressure of the nail is pushing against sensitive skin. The edge of the sharp nail breaks the skin. The most common area is on the big toe. This can happen because a person has cut their toenails too short, wearing shoes that are very tight and crowding the toes, or an injury to the toenail. The area becomes red, swells, and feels very painful. It is important to wear shoes that fit properly taking precaution before wearing shoes at all can become unbearable. Don’t pick at the nails and be sure to have quality pedicures done. Persons who have diabetes or poor circulation are at higher risk. Sometimes infection can take place. The feet are warm and sweat kept inside socks and closed spaces which makes a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Infection to the toe usually has puss on the area. Continuing to clean the area becomes necessary.

Soaking the foot in warm water for 20 minutes can help with an ingrown toenail. Soaking the toe and adding elevation can often times do the trick. At home care and proactive self-care can help avoid the nails having to be either be removed, detached, or destroying part of the nail’s cells.  If an infection forms and is left untreated, the underlying bone can also become infected. Making sure to keep the toenails at a moderate length and not cutting them too short can help prevent this problem. We don’t always check our feet, but they need attention too. In fact, they carry our weight all day long, but we rarely look down and hide then in socks and shoes.

This condition is very unpleasant, and athletes can be prone to having them. The stopping and starting of the sports causes the toes to be cramped into the shoes. Poor foot hygiene also puts one at risk. People at higher risk already have toe deformities, bunions, or flat feet. It is common for an ingrown toenail to reoccur if left untreated. Also, if not addressed, the toenail can become deformed and the affected skin can become scarred.

We need our feet to transport us, so painful steps are nothing we want to experience. Even our toes need attention and we should not take for granted the joys of living pain free. Movement is natural medicine and an ingrown toenail can impede this. Don’t let any type of preventable pain take advantage or your well being.

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.