Ingrown Toenail Care for Runners

Dec 05, 2023

Can you guess the most common problem that affects fingernails or toenails?

If you said ingrown toenails, you’re correct. Everyone’s heard of them, and no one wants them — especially runners. But how do you prevent ingrown toenails or care for them if they occur? 

The team at Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists of Arizona has your back … or your toes, that is. Here’s what we think runners should know about ingrown toenail care.

What are ingrown toenails?

An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows down into your skin instead of away from your toe. Various factors can cause an ingrown toenail, but the most common are wearing shoes that push your toes together and trimming your nails at an angle instead of straight across.

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include swelling, pain, tenderness, and signs of infection, such as oozing pus or skin warm to the touch. You may also have inflamed skin growing over the edge of your toenail. 

An ingrown toenail is nothing to mess around with. It can cause tissue death and even amputation in cases where it’s left untreated and the patient has diabetes or another health issue that causes circulation problems.

Preventing ingrown toenails

As mentioned, there are two main causes of ingrown toenails. To prevent them, adopt the following habits:

Trim your toenails correctly

Using a pair of clean toenail clippers, cut the nails straight across without rounding the edges. That keeps toenails from growing down into your skin.

Wear proper footwear

Wear shoes that give your toes enough room to move freely. Shoes that are too tight or narrow crowd your toes and increase the risk of ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenail care for runners

Of course, if you’re a dedicated runner, and you have an ingrown toenail, you probably want to know if you can keep running. Sure, if you have a mild case and the discomfort isn’t bad, you can safely run. 

The key is monitoring your symptoms. If they get worse, you may need medical attention.

If you do plan to keep running, it’s important that you watch out for infection. To avoid your ingrown nail from becoming infected, consider these tips:

  • Wash your feet with soap and water daily; dry thoroughly to avoid bacteria spread
  • Apply topical treatments such as antibiotic cream or over-the-counter antiseptic
  • Put on a bandage before you run to keep new bacteria out

You can also use over-the-counter pain medication to manage any pain from an ingrown toenail. 

If you’re a runner fighting ingrown toenails and need professional help, our podiatrists at Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists of Arizona are experts in dealing with this problem. Call our Chandler, Arizona, office at 480-963-9000 today or request an appointment online.