Engaging in sports and physical activities can bring joy and numerous health benefits. However, just because you’re staying active, regardless of whether you’re doing it at a professional level or recreationally, does not mean that you’re immune to foot conditions like ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails can be particularly bothersome when you live an active lifestyle, causing pain, discomfort, and affecting your performance. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the causes of ingrown toenails related to sports, discuss effective prevention strategies, and provide tips on managing pain and continuing sports activities while recovering.
What Causes Of Ingrown Toenails In Active People?
While we’ve described the ‘regular’ common causes of ingrown toenails here, those who are active are more likely to develop ingrown nails as a result of:
Repetitive pressure and trauma: Sports involving repetitive movements, such as running or jumping, can increase the risk of ingrown toenails. The constant impact and pressure on the toes can lead to nail trauma, causing the nail to grow into the surrounding skin.
Improper footwear: Wearing ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear during sports activities can contribute to the development of ingrown toenails. Shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have a shallow toe box can compress the toes, increasing the likelihood of nail penetration and discomfort.
Excessive sweating: Intense physical activity often leads to excessive sweating, which can soften the skin around the toenails. This can make the skin more susceptible to irritation and ingrown toenail formation.
Not trimming your nails often enough: The longer your nails are, the more likely they are to break and leave jagged edges. It’s easy to forget about your foot health when you’re always active on your feet, hence the increased risk.
Choosing proper footwear: Select sports-specific shoes that provide sufficient room for the toes, allowing them to move freely without constriction. Opt for shoes with a wide toe box and good arch support to minimize pressure on the nails and promote proper foot alignment.
Trim your toenails correctly and often: Maintain proper nail hygiene by trimming the toenails straight across, avoiding rounding the corners. Be mindful not to cut the nails too short, as this can encourage the growth of ingrown toenails.
Wear moisture-wicking socks: Use moisture-wicking socks made of breathable materials to keep the feet dry during sports activities. Moisture can increase the risk of skin irritation and make the skin more vulnerable to ingrown toenails.
Maintain good foot hygiene: Regularly clean and dry your feet, paying attention to the areas around the nails. Proper hygiene helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections that can exacerbate ingrown toenail issues.
Avoid repetitive trauma: Incorporate cross-training and varied activities into your sports routine to minimize repetitive trauma to the toes. Giving the affected area time to recover can prevent further irritation and allow the nail to grow naturally.
If you already have an ingrown toenail, take the time and care to treat it probably and have it fixed. Ingrown toenails don’t go away on their own, but can get worse.
If you must continue to play sports before your toe has fully recovered, apply a cushioning pad or bandage to the affected toe to reduce pressure and friction during sports.
Always see a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail, as they can offer you a range of suitable treatments, including options to get rid of your ingrown toenail for good by having a partial nail avulsion procedure.