Why Do I Keep Getting Ingrown Toenails?

What causes ingrown nails

Is the side of your toe swollen and tender? Are you bothered by toe pain when you put on a shoe or take a step? An ingrown toenail could be to blame.

Ingrown nails happen when the hard edge of your nail grows into the skin of your toe. They’re painful and they can get infected — and this common foot problem is even more annoying when it keeps coming back.

Fortunately, treatment can stop recurring ingrown nails. Bryon Butts, DPM, and our team at Performance Footcare PC offer a range of ingrown nail treatments so you can live with less discomfort.

Common causes of ingrown toenails

An ingrown nail starts with a sharp edge. As the nail grows, this hard edge digs into the soft skin around it. This often results in irritation, pain, and infection along the side of your toe.

While any nail can get ingrown, they’re most common on your big toes near the top corners. Some people are more likely to suffer ingrown nails than others, and here are some of the possible reasons why:

Cutting your toenails incorrectly

Do you trim your toenails the same way you trim your fingernails? If the answer is yes, that may explain why you keep getting ingrown toenails.

Many people cut their fingernails in a short, rounded shape. But doing the same with your toenails can result in painful ingrown nails because the short, rounded edge grows into your skin.

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Inheriting curved nails

You inherited your nail shape from your parents. Everyone’s nails are slightly different, and while some people have flatter nails, others have nails with more dramatic curves.

Having curved nails, or pincer nails, could cause chronic ingrown toenails. The edges of curved nails naturally poke down into your toe skin, increasing your risk of irritation and infection, even if you practice good foot care habits.

Injuring your toe

A toe injury that damages your toenail can lead to an ingrown nail. Breaking or tearing your toenail can leave a sharp edge that grows into your skin. Stubbing your toe can force the nail into the skin. While these injuries usually heal on their own, they can create a problem if you’re prone to ingrown nails.

Wearing tight shoes 

Some types of footwear could put you at risk of ingrown nails, including shoes that are too small and shoes with pointed toes. These shoes squeeze your toes together and can push sharp nail edges into your skin. Not wearing socks with shoes can also increase your risk of injury.

What to do about ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are painful. At-home care can relieve mild ingrown symptoms, but if you get ingrown nails regularly, you should make a podiatrist appointment.

Dr. Butts and our team specialize in ingrown toenail care. We can identify what’s causing your recurring ingrown nails, and recommend treatment to stop the discomfort.

We start by showing you how to properly trim your toenails. Cut the nails straight across, and don’t round the edges or cut them too short. If cutting your toenails is hard for you, we offer professional toenail trimming.

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Depending on your symptoms, Dr. Butts might recommend a toenail splint to lift your toenail from your skin or prescribe antibiotic medication to treat infection. If you still get frequent ingrown nails after trying other treatments, he may suggest removing part or all of your toenail.

There’s a solution for your ingrown toenail problem. Talk to Dr. Butts to find a treatment plan that works for you. Contact Performance Footcare PC online or call our offices to schedule your appointment.

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About the Author: Tung Chi