Dr. Gillian Aldous
Foot Notes

Ingrown nails are one of the most common foot complaints that podiarists treat. I have not written about this previously because it is a condition that mainly affects younger people, but older people can get this painful problem as well. So if it’s you, or a younger person that you know, here are a few things to know.

What is an  ingrown nail?

Basically, an ingrown nail is a nail that is a bit too wide for the space available, and the edges of the nail will irritate the skin at the sides causing pain.  This can be mild, and cause some redness, or extreme. In some cases the nail will grow into the skin and can cause trauma and lead to infection. 

When to seek help from a podiatrist

If your nail is causing you discomfort then it is worthwhile to get it checked. Many people who have this condition improve considerably with regular treatment. If the ingrown nail is causing significant pain then a podiatrist can carry out a minor surgical procedure to remove a portion of the nail, causing the nail to be narrowerer and stop the discomfort. 

What causes ingrown nails?

• Heredity. For some people the nail is wide and there are difficulties. Often there will be another family member (mum/dad) who has had a similar problem.

• Wearing shoes that are the wrong size or shape. This is tight or pointed shoes. (Please note: we usually think of ladies fashion footwear, but cowboy boots can be tight too.) High heels will put our body weight through the ball of the foot, and this can lead to the nails feeling squished. Finally think of sports: skates are meant to be shaped very close to the foot. So are soccer cleats. Please remember that when we are active our feet and toes will swell, and this increased size can cause more painful nails.

• Not cutting the nail well. (Picking the nails!)  Please don’t cut the nail too short. Please don’t leave the nail too long. The nail should be curved slightly at the edges.

What can we do to help the pain?

There are a lot of tips and tricks that people will try to improve this condition. Cotton under the edge or soaking it in salted water are two treatments that can help relieve the pain and improve the condition. If you find they aren’t helping enough, please see a professional health provider.

Dr. Gillian Aldous (podiatrist) works from the Madison Square Orthorehab Clinic. Open late on Thursday, 204 504 8986.