Reasons Why You Keep Getting Ingrown Toenails

by | Jun 3, 2019

You know what they say: “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times, maybe there isn’t really so much ‘fooling’ going on as a systemic problem that we really should investigate.”

OK, so we modified the saying a bit, but it rings true for many cases—and especially for ingrown toenails.

While an ingrown toenail is often minor enough to treat without much trouble, having the condition consistently come back is a problem all its own.

Sometimes an event such as dropping something on your toe will cause enough damage to have the toenail curve in against the skin as it grows, but that is usually just a one-time occurrence.

An ingrown toenail that keeps returning over and over is a sign that something about your feet or their environment is likely amiss. When we address this issue, the recurring ingrown toenail problem will likely go away.

So don’t fool yourself by thinking a stubborn recurring ingrown will just go away on its own. Consider the following possibilities instead, and come see us if you’re stumped or need advice.

Your Footwear is Putting on the Pressure

Our environments can influence our behaviors, and where we make our toes live for a vast portion of the day is important.

Shoes should always have roomy toe boxes to allow the toes to move normally. If they are all jammed up against each other, that is putting extra external pressure on the toenails, which can lead to them growing in the wrong direction.

Additionally, shoes with extra high heels can shift pressure toward the front of the foot and the toes, and shoes that do not fit properly can cause the foot to slide and the toes to repeatedly slam against the front of the shoe. Both situations can encourage the development and recurrence of ingrown toenails.

If your shoes are providing poor working conditions for your feet, try switching to new footwear that allows your toes more wiggle room while fitting comfortably and snugly against the sides and heel of the foot. Even if this ends up not helping your ingrown toenail situation, it will still benefit your overall foot health.

High heels painful feet

You May Be Clipping Your Toenails Poorly

Our habits with toenail clipping can have an influence on whether ingrown toenails are a common occurrence.

If you severely round off the corners of your toenails when you trim them, it increases the odds of the nail becoming ingrown. Try to cut straight across as much as possible. If you have sharp corners, try filing them down a bit instead of making deep clips.

It is also important not to cut the nail too short. Always leave a bit of white at the end of the nail. Cutting any deeper risks injury that can contribute to the nail consistently growing back the wrong way. It also hurts and can open you up to infection as well!

You can also help avoid toenail trimming injuries by determining what time you pull out the clippers. If your toenails are thick and a challenge to trim, try waiting until after you come out of the shower, when water has made them softer. However, if your toenails are fine to trim as they are, making them softer can make them easier to tear instead of clip! Use your best judgment and be careful.

It Could Just Be in Your Genes

If you have pristine toenail trimming habits and have changed your shoes every which way, there is the possibility that your stubbornly returning ingrown toenails are not any fault of your own. You could simply have been born with an increased likelihood of having curved nails and an increased risk for ingrown annoyance.

Try checking with your family on this one. Do they have a history of ingrown nails too? If so, that’s more evidence toward this particular theory.

What to Do About Recurring Ingrown Toenails

If your ingrown toenails keep coming back and you are stumped as to why, come see Waukesha Foot Specialists for help. There might be something going on that’s just not showing up on the radar, and we can help you find out what that is.

And even if the problem is genetics, that does not mean there is nothing that can be done to find relief.

If ingrown toenails keep returning, and the cause is not external, the best step for taking care of the problem may be to partially or fully remove the nail.

A minor surgical procedure is performed in the office, under local anesthesia. The offending part of the nail is removed and the underlying nail bed is treated to prevent new nails from growing there again.

If ingrown toenail removal is a consideration, we will be sure to discuss this option fully with you, as well as any other potential options that may exist.

Don’t Get Fooled Again

A lifetime of ingrown toenails is not something to look forward to. Not taking action only ensures that this bit of rain will keep showing up to ruin your parade.

If ingrown toenails are a consistent problem for you, don’t wait any longer to get the treatment you need. Whether that requires a change in footwear, a change in habits, or some surgical intervention, we can help.

Call our office at (262) 544-0700 to schedule an appointment. If you prefer to contact us electronically, simply head to our online contact form and reach us there.

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