Triathlete—November 6, 2014
Dr. Jordan Metzl discusses the symptoms of ingrown toenails, and provides advice on treating and preventing the troublesome foot pain.
Pain, sometimes worse than just annoying, where the toenail has grown into the skin around it. The entire area is usually red and tender to the touch.
What’s Going On In There?
Ingrown nails typically start when a nail, usually the one on the big toe, grows or is pushed into the soft, tender tissue alongside it. People whose toes are somewhat convex are more susceptible, but anyone can get one. Athletes who spend a lot of time in tight shoes or who put a lot of pressure on their toes with explosive movements are prime candidates for ingrown nails.
It’s important to address ingrown nails quickly. Trying to ignore them will only lead to more pain while running, changing direction or jumping—basically, all the things an athlete needs his or her feet for.
Try an over-the-counter product.
Use cotton. The ultimate solution is to have the toenail eventually grow out over the skin folds at its side. Start by soaking your foot in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes to soften the nail (add 1 teaspoon of salt for every pint of water). Dry it, then gently insert a wisp (not a wad) of sterile cotton beneath the burrowing edge of the nail. The cotton will lift the nail slightly so it will grow past the sore skin. Apply an antiseptic over the cotton as well to guard against infection. Change the cotton daily until the nail grows out.
When To Call A Doctor
If your toe becomes infected, you need to see a doctor. Signs to look for include swelling, redness, pain and warmth when touched.
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