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How to Prevent and Treat Ingrown Toenails

A Pain in the Toe: Ingrown Toenails

In my experience, not being able to run because of an ingrown toenail is so uncool. There is absolutely zero glamour to it, not that any injury is glamorous, and ingrown toenails can be easily avoided. If you have never experienced this annoying problem let me explain — an ingrown toenail occurs when the corners of one of your toenails grows into the soft skin of your toe. This unorthodox nail growth pattern, usually on the big toe, causes the skin to become red, swollen, and can cause an infection. Aside from just plain hurting, if left untreated, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection. Yikes!

To find out how to prevent an ingrown toenail


  • Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight.
  • When trimming your toenails, cut them straight across — no rounded edges. Also avoid trimming the nails too short.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.

To treat an ingrown toenail, soak your foot in warm salt water for 15 to 20 minutes. This will reduce swelling and sensitivity. Then use a nail file to lift the nail away from your skin and place a small piece of cotton under the nail. Do this twice a day until your toenail begins to grow out. Use a topical antibiotic in case there's an infection. If the pain doesn't go away or your symptoms get worse, make an appointment with a podiatrist. The doctor may need to cut away part of your skin or nail to encourage healing. If you have an infection, the podiatrist will prescribe antibiotics. Once your toe is back to normal, remember to take care of your feet to ensure this never happens again.


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