Tips for shooing away painful ingrown toenails
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By Julie Ann Anderson  May 16, 2014 12:00 am

“Oooh, my aching feet!” is a common complaint among individuals young and old, but those concerned with senior citizen foot care know that foot issues can be more problematic for those of the older generation. 

Ingrown toenails are among the most common senior citizen foot care issues. Knowing what steps to take to prevent and treat this common ailment can come in very handy.


So what exactly is 

an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is exactly what the name implies: a toenail that has started growing inside the skin at the edges or corners of a toenail, rather than simply covering the outer part of the toe. It is medically known as onychocryptosis or as unguis incarnates. Most of the time, an ingrown toenail occurs on the big toe, but it can occur on any of the toes.


What causes an ingrown toenail?

There are several things that can lead to the development of an ingrown toenail, including:

• Not wearing the right shoes: Some shoes look really classy but don’t always fit the right way. If a shoe is too short, narrow or flat at the end, it may crowd the toes together too much, causing the nail to grow inappropriately. Sometimes, socks or stockings that are too tight can also cause this.


• Incorrect toenail trimming: If you cut the toenail too short or unevenly, the skin may fill the space, forming over the toenail as it regrows.


• Poor posture: Your mother was right when she kept telling you to stand up straight. Bad posture puts an improper amount of pressure on the feet and toes, which can in turn create ingrown toenails.


• Sweat: When they are inside shoes all day, feet are already in a warm environment; moisture from sweat adds to conditions that are already especially likely to cause ingrown toenails.


How do you treat it?

Fortunately, at-home senior citizen foot care is often sufficient to treat an ingrown toenail. The following are ways that many find effective:

• Soak: Soak the affected foot in warm water three or four times a day. While soaking, try gently pushing the skin away from the toenail using a cotton ball or Q-tip. (The keyword here is “gently.”)


• Dry: When not soaking it, keep the foot as dry as possible.


• Change your shoes: If your shoes are too tight, find a pair that is looser and more comfortable.


• Treat your aching toes: Use an over-the-counter painkiller such as ibuprofen.


Most people see improvement after three or four days. If the toenail continues to be a problem, see your doctor.

Ingrown toenails are a nuisance rather than a major problem, but that’s no reason to endure them. Preventing or treating ingrown toenails is simply part of providing appropriate senior citizen foot care.

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services, please call us at (707) 331-1092 or email us. We accept all types of long term care insurance as payment. Best!


Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.

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