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SHOES & INGROWN TOENAILS - DO YOUR SHOES FIT?
By Bethesda, MD & Springfield, VA Podiatrist, Dr. Paul Ross of The Podiatry Center

Though shoes can cause all sorts of foot problems, ingrown toenails are the most common. Many people choose style over comfort, especially women, and this can have some painful consequences over time.

Did You Know?

Barefoot cultures have less problems with their feet than shoe-wearing cultures.

“Perhaps the most conclusive study was the one that compared foot forms among the non-shoe and the shoe-wearing Chinese population in Hong Kong. The incidence of hallux valgus, hallux rigidus, incurved fifth toe, hammertoe, and a host of other foot and toe deformities was much higher in the shoe-wearing population. The study concluded that the foot in its natural unrestricted form is mobile and flexible and free of the structural problems so often encountered in the shoe-wearing population. These observations lead one to conclude that shoes are not necessary for normal foot development. A normal foot does not need shoe support. In contrast, heavy shoes, unless prescribed for a specific problem, do more harm than good.”

(http://www.orthoseek.com/articles/selshoes.html)

How Are Ingrown Toenails Caused By Shoes?

When shoes crowd the toes, such as pointy-toed heels or shoes that are too tight, pressure is put on the toes. On a consistent and ongoing basis, this pressure can lead to the toenail growing into the soft skin on the sides of the toe.

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

The best shoes for your feet are light athletic shoes. They offer support, aren’t too heavy, and let feet breathe.

Another way to keep from damaging your feet is to go barefoot as often as possible. Though this can be difficult if you spend a lot of time away from home, you can still choose to be barefoot after work or when doing indoor chores. This allows your feet to be comfortable, but it also lets them breathe, which can help prevent athlete’s foot.

Home Treatment Ideas For Ingrown Toenails

If you have an ingrown toenail, there are several things you can do to keep it from getting worse.

  1. Soaking your feet with a mixture of warm water and Epsom salt can alleviate inflammation and help your toenail grow more naturally. Domeboro Astringent Solution works as an anti-inflammatory, too. Soak 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes.
  2. Trim nails properly.
    Trim straight across, not too short, and file down sharp or ragged edges.
  3. Use cotton.
    Though this isn’t the best way to do it, especially if the toenail has already broken the skin and begun getting infected, you can try it if your ingrown toenail isn’t severe.

    1. Soak your feet to soften the nail and relieve pain.
    2. Disinfect with rubbing alcohol.
    3. Use a small piece of cotton to wedge between your toenail and the skin it’s growing into.
    4. Leave overnight.
    5. If irritation or inflammation continues, repeat.
    6. If irritation continues after several days, see a podiatrist.
  4. Use ointment.
    If all else fails, put some antibiotic ointment on the ingrown toenail.
  5. Above all, don’t play surgeon!
    You could cause an infection and make things worse.

If problems persist or your toe becomes infected, it might be time to see a Bethesda, MD Podiatrist and Springfield, VA Podiatrist. As always, take extra precautions if you have diabetes. If you aren’t sure whether or not you even have an ingrown toenail or you simply have questions, please give The Podiatry Center a call! We care about the health of your feet and are here to help you.


The Podiatry Centers treat all medical and surgical foot and ankle conditions. Licensed Bethesda, MD Podiatrist, Dr. Paul Ross can help bring you foot pain and ankle pain relief.

Our Bethesda, Maryland (MD) and Springfield, Virginia (VA) Podiatry offices offer the most effective and state-of-the-art, quality podiatry care services with a smile to patients in our local community, including: Woodbridge VA, Fairfax VA, Annandale VA, Arlington VA, Alexandria VA, Burke VA, Gaithersburg MD, Potomac MD, Silver Spring MD, Rockville MD and Chevy Chase MD.

Return to a pain-free life and get back to the things you love!


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