For most people, ingrown toenails are painful and annoying. But if you have diabetes, they're much more serious. The poor circulation and dulled nerves that go along with diabetes mean that most foot problems are more serious, and ingrown toenails are no exception. In severe cases, an ingrown toenail can become badly infected or lead to an open sore that requires surgery.
That's why prevention of ingrown toenails is crucial if you have diabetes. There's a lot you can do to minimize the chances that you'll get an ingrown toenail – or even to minimize the chances one will recur if you've had one in the past.
Keep Nails Straight-Cut And Moderate-Length
Properly trimmed toenails are one way to prevent ingrown toenails. If the edges of the nails are curved or are too short, they may easily be pressed into the toe itself and begin to grow into the flesh. Instead, trim toenails down so that they're even with the edge of your toe and not shorter. In addition, trim them straight across instead of curving them like fingernails.
Reduce Shoe Pressure
If your shoes create pressure on your toenails, they can press the nails into your skin, greatly increasing the risk of an ingrown nail. The easiest way to reduce the pressure on your toenails, of course, is to take your shoes off and go barefoot. But while this might be an option at home, it doesn't fly in the workplace, and most stores won't allow you to enter without shoes.
Wear shoes with a large toebox. Pointy-toed shoes are more likely to press your toes together, so look for rounder or boxier styles. Always try shoes on before buying – even a shoe that looks like it has a wide toebox may end up having one that's wide but not tall enough. And when the weather and occasion allows opt for sandals or open-toed shoes.
Check Nails Every Day
For most people, it's enough to notice an ingrown toenail when it presents symptoms. But with diabetes, you can't rely on that – diabetes often causes nerve problems that mean your feet can be damaged without you knowing it. If you've had ingrown toenails in the past, check for problems every day. If you catch a toenail becoming ingrown early, your doctor may be able to use a little floss or splint to keep it from growing under the skin.
For Problem Nails, Consider Surgery
If you're doing all you can to prevent ingrown toenails but still having problems, talk to a podiatrist about whether surgery could help. There are multiple options for ingrown toenail surgery. A surgeon may remove a part or all of the nail and then alter the nail bed so that the nail will not grow back in problem areas.
A few weeks ago, my wife made me go to the nail salon with her. Instead of sitting around for hours while my wife perused nail decals and polish options, I decided to get a pedicure. It was a really relaxing experience, but I quickly discovered that the process was about more than a foot bath. Before I knew it, someone was cutting and sanding my toenails. Unfortunately, a few days later I developed a massive ingrown toenail infection, which my podiatrist attributed to my visit to the nail salon. I want everyone to know how to properly care for their feet, so I made this website.