Nowadays, almost every patient I see has a medical degree that Google awarded them. And, I’ll admit it, sometimes those late-night, fear-driven searches for symptoms lead to accurate, useful medical information. But other times, they don’t. If that happens, you either wind up believing you are about to die or trying home remedies for an illness you don’t truly have.
Therefore, as a web-savvy podiatrist, it is part of my job to provide you with accurate medical information while also helping to dispel myths about medicine. What is the subject today? An annoying condition that affects toes of all ages throughout the country, ingrown toenails. Let’s see if you can distinguish between ingrown toenail ‘facts’ and old wives’ (or husbands’) tales.
Why Do Ingrown Toenails Form?
Now let’s get started with my discussion of the causes of ingrown toenails. Your mission is to determine whether or not they are true before scrolling down to the bottom of the page to look at the answers.
No. 1: You’ll get ingrown toenails if you don’t clip your nails.
No. 2: You’ll get ingrown toenails if you don’t clip your nails correctly.
No. 3: Ingrown toenails may be avoided by cutting a “V” into the nail.
No. 4: Picking your toenails might result in ingrown toenails.
So, are you all set with your best guesses? Answers are here.
No. 1: FALSE. Most of the time, toenails don’t grow into the skin just because they are long. The majority of ingrown nails do, in fact, happen when the nail plate is too broad for the nail bed. That signifies that I’m more interested with the width of your toenails than the length of them.
This “false” response comes with a disclaimer, of course. The pressure of tight shoes may induce inflammation, and some people’s toenails do develop with a downward slope. When that happens, having long nails might result in them being lodged in the end of the toe, which will only become worse after you put on your shoes.
No. 2: Again, the answer is FALSE. We blame nail cutting for ingrown toenails, which is a myth. However, it’s possible that poor nail-cutting techniques might make ingrown nails worse. You should always cut your nails straight across. An ingrown nail may develop when the sides of your nails are angled back. However, this cutting answer is not universally applicable. If your nail is very curved, failing to round its corners may cause it to dig into your toe and create discomfort.
No. 3: Could this thought be any more false? I’m shocked that many still believe the groove in the nail relieves strain on the toe. If you think of a pressure grate on a bridge or road, the concept could make sense: the grate prevents pavement from breaking when temperature changes cause expansion and contraction. Unfortunately, the idea doesn’t apply to our toenails.
No. 4: True! True! True!A clipper is the best tool to use for trimming toenails. We’ve all done it at some point or another. However, doing it often causes the toenail to go too low on the sides, perhaps causing damage that might lead to an ingrown toenail. Check your answers, but be sure of one thing: you’d better have those clippers close at hand when it comes to toenail health. Do not pick.
How Do I Treat An Ingrown Toenail?
There’s one more thing I want you to be aware of, whether you aced our little exam or not. You should not even think of treating an ingrown toenail at home if you or your kid develops one. Bathroom surgery, as I like to refer to it, is unpleasant, unsanitary, and a certain way to get skin and nail infections.
The good news is that if you have an ingrown toenail and visit my Houston podiatrist office, I will gently numb the affected area and remove the toenail. The procedure is swift, secure, and almost painless (the worst part of the process is typically the sting of my numbing injection.)