Are Your Shoes Causing You Ingrown Toenail Pain?
You likely know by now that there are “good shoes” and there are “bad shoes.”
Bad shoes do not fit you properly, and can cause you a lot of pain if you spend more than a minimal amount of time in them. When you imagine such footwear, you might think of incredibly stiff dress shoes, or a pair of high heels with 8-inch spikes—shoes that can be more like torture devices than actual footwear.
However, even shoes that look innocent at first glance can end up having negative effects on your feet, and that includes giving you recurring cases of ingrown toenails.
An ingrown toenail once in a great while is usually not something to be too concerned about. They can just happen sometimes, and can usually be treated at home if they are minor. But if you are getting ingrown toenails on the regular, that is a sign that something is likely playing a big role in creating them, and that should be addressed.
Shoes are a prime suspect in situation such as these, so they are very much worth investigating. Here are a few ways your shoes may be causing you grief with ingrown toenails.
The Toe Box is Too Small, Cramped, and/or Misshapen
In any shoe, your toes should be able to rest flat and straight ahead, as well as have room to wiggle. The “toe box” of your shoe—where the toes live, essentially—should provide enough room to do so.
If your toe box is too small or narrow, your toes will likely end up crammed together and relatively immobile, a lot like sardines in a can. This exerts extra forces against the toes—both from the sides of the shoe pushing against the toes and the toes pushing against each other. As these forces are continually exerted, they can cause the nails to start growing improperly—often into the skin.
Side attacks are not the only angle, however. You should also consider whether your toes are jamming up against the front of your shoe as well. Pressure from the front can also cause toenails to grow awry, especially if you cut your toenails very short to begin with.
Last but not least, shoes with a pointed toe can be particularly troublesome if your toes are actually going into that space. It’s like trying to force square peg into a triangular hole!
Your Shoes Fit Too Loosely
A tight toe box can mean trouble, but so can shoes that fit too loosely around your foot.
We just discussed how consistent pressure against the front of your toes can lead to ingrown toenails. Now imagine your toes slamming repeatedly up against the front of your shoes instead. Still not a great situation, right?
When your shoes fit too loosely, it can lead to your feet sliding within them. That can lead to repeated impacts, especially if you’re taking a jog or run.
This abuse not only directly increases your risk of ingrown toenails, but can provide actual trauma to your nails as well. Black toenails are a common condition in runners whose toes are continually sliding up against the insides of their shoes, leading to bruising and bleeding beneath the nail. This type of injury can cause nails to fall off, and they can end up re-growing improperly.
Your Shoes Have High Heels
Yes, we know we already criticized heels in the beginning, but this bears repeating!
The higher your heels are, the more your weight is tipped forward and the more pressure is placed against the front of your foot. If that is forcing your toes against the front of your shoe, that can contribute to ingrown nails.
What to Look for in Toenail-Friendly Shoes
Anything from high heels to work boots to running shoes can be responsible for repeated ingrown toenails if they aren’t fitting properly. When you’re trying on your shoes, check for the following:
- At least a half inch between the end of your toes and the inside of your shoes.
- A toe box that leaves your toes flat, comfortable, and easy to wiggle.
- A supportive heel and midsection that prevents your foot from slipping and sliding inside the shoe.
And if you suspect your shoes might be causing your ingrown toenails, the best way to find out is to switch to another pair! If your ingrown nails clear up, odds are good the shoes were to blame.
But if they don’t…
Stopping Ingrown Toenails for Good
Shoes are not the only potential cause of repeat ingrown toenails. The way you trim your toenails or past traumas to your nails can play a role as well.
There are also some cases where ingrown toenails are a result of your family line. Some people are just born with nails that tend to grow curved and inward.
If ingrown toenails keep bothering you no matter what you have tried to correct the problem, let us know about it. We can help you get to the bottom of the matter and find you a permanent solution. In some situations, this might mean a simple surgical procedure to partially or completely remove the nail.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (719) 266-5000 whenever an ingrown toenail is causing you concern. And if you prefer to reach us electronically instead, fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond during our standard office hours.