How to Choose the Right Shoes to Avoid Ingrown Toenails

April 20, 2023

Ingrown toenails are undoubtedly painful and frustrating, especially if you continue to get them over and over. While there are many causes of ingrown toenails, such as picking or pulling at the nails, or trimming the toenails too far down the sides of the nail to give them a curved appearance, one causative factor that is often overlooked is the shoes you wear. Specifically, wearing shoes that are too tight – and in some cases even too loose can cause your toenails to grow down into the skin, leading to yet another ingrown toenail. So what should you be looking for in shoes that help protect your feet against ingrown toenails? Here are five great places to start.

Get the Right Fit

The first step in choosing the right shoes to avoid ingrown toenails is to make sure your footwear is the right fit – and style – for your foot type. Tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails by putting pressure on the toes, which can push the toenails into the skin. When the toenails are constantly pressed against the skin, they can become inflamed and swollen, making it easier for them to grow into the skin. Additionally, tight shoes can cause the toes to be compressed, which can lead to an imbalance in the pressure distribution in the toes. This can cause the toenails to grow abnormally, making them more likely to become ingrown.  When shoes are too loose, the foot can slide forward inside the shoe, causing the toes to press against the front of the shoe. This can lead to the toenails being pushed into the skin, especially if the shoes are repeatedly worn without being properly adjusted or tightened. Loose shoes can also cause the foot to move around inside the shoe, which can cause the toenails to rub against the inside of the shoe or each other. This friction can irritate the skin around the toenails and make it more likely for the nails to grow into the skin. When you’re buying shoes, make sure you try them on and walk around in them to see how they feel. You should be able to wiggle your toes comfortably, and there should be enough space between the end of your shoe and your longest toe.

Choose Shoes with a Wide Toe Box

Shoes with a narrow or pointy toe box can squeeze your toes together, causing your toenails to grow into the skin. Instead, look for shoes with a good-sized toe box. They don’t even have to be super wide – just suitable for your foot and foot type. This will allow your toes to spread out naturally. Shoes with a rounded or square toe box are a good starting point to help give your toes the space they need. If you have wide feet or bunions, you may need to look for shoes that are specifically designed for these conditions – but thankfully today’s market has a lot of variation and options for those with a range of foot conditions.

Look for Shoes with Soft, Flexible Uppers

The material of the shoe’s upper can also affect how your toenails grow. Shoes with stiff, rigid uppers can put pressure on your toes, causing them to curl under and grow into the skin. Look for shoes with soft, flexible uppers that allow your feet to move naturally. Leather and mesh are good options as a starting point.

Avoid High Heels

High heels not only overload your forefoot which can lead to a range of pains and problems, but they can also contribute to the development of ingrown toenails. High heels force your toes into the front of the shoe, putting pressure on your toenails and causing them to grow into the skin. If you must wear heels, look for shoes with a lower heel height and a wider toe box.

Consider Orthotics

If you have flat feet or other foot problems, and have had a pair of orthotics in the past, you may benefit from continuing to wear them as a way to help prevent your ingrown toenails from recurring. While orthotics are typically designed to support your feet and improve your foot alignment, they can also help prevent ingrown toenails by reducing pressure on your toes through the way that foot alignment is adjusted.

Getting Help For An Ingrown Toenail

If you’re concerned about recurrent ingrown toenails and aren’t sure if your shoes are the source of the problem or if it’s something else, we can help. Our team offers treatments that fix both one-off and recurrent ingrown nails, as well as helps you get to the cause of the problem to help prevent them from continuing to cause you pain and discomfort in the future. Book your appointment by calling us on 09 523 2333 or book online here.