With all the fun activities to do around Berkeley—such as hiking the trails at Tilden Regional Park or wandering through the beauties of UC Botanical Garden—you want to make sure your feet are up to the task. Nothing dampens your enthusiasm for walking or hiking like the pain of an ingrown toenail. Some people inherit unusually curved nails, but the usual causes have more to do with shoe choice and grooming habits. The following tips should help you avoid the problem.
First, your footwear:
- Choose roomy shoes. Pairs that are too narrow or pointed force the skin against the edge of the nail. They can also press on the nail itself and cause it to curl down instead of lie straight.
- Choose lower heels. High heels cause your feet to slide forward and press your toes against the front of the shoes.
- Avoid tight socks or hosiery. You don’t want them so loose that they bunch up or slide around, but tight socks can press against the skin and nails just as shoes can.
Next, some grooming tips:
- Keep toenails properly trimmed. Nails grow at different speeds, but check yours once a week to see if they need cutting. You want them to be about even with the end of your toe. If they are too short, it encourages the skin to grow over them.
- Trim nails straighter across. Leaving the corners straighter discourages the skin from being pressed inward. When the nail digs into the skin at the sides, it can irritate the soft tissue and cause redness, swelling and pain.
- Keep them clean. Wash them every day, and while the skin is softened, gently clean under and around the nails to get rid of dirt and debris. Be careful not to damage the cuticle or skin.
- Watch for signs of infection. If the nail happens to pierce the skin, there is an opening for bacteria and fungus to invade. Infections lead to redness, puffiness and drainage or green pus. Extra warmth or red streaks leading away from it are also signs of danger.
These healthy foot care habits should cut your risk for ingrown toenails, but if one becomes painfully ingrown, call the Berkeley office of Yuko Miyazaki, DPM at (510) 647-3744 for an appointment. An infection could lead to serious complications, so don’t delay getting medical help.