Ingrown Toenail Infections in Runners

Ingrown toenail infections can be a painful and bothersome experience, but with the right knowledge, you can identify, treat, and prevent ingrown toenail infection effectively. In this article, you’ll discover the importance of proper nail care, appropriate footwear, and long-term prevention strategies. Say goodbye to the discomfort, and hello to healthy, happy feet!


Key Takeaways

  • Early identification of symptoms and understanding causes & risk factors are essential for successful treatment of ingrown toenail infection.
  • Adopting appropriate nail trimming, footwear selection and running precautions can help effectively prevent the infection.
  • Post-treatment care should include wound care & preventive measures to promote healing & avoid future infections.


Identifying Ingrown Toenail Infection

ingrown toenail infectionAn ingrown toenail is a condition where the edges or corners of the nail grow into the surrounding skin, causing pain, swelling, and redness. In severe cases, it may require medical intervention. Identifying the symptoms of an ingrown toenail infection is the first step toward addressing the issue and preventing further complications.

Common Symptoms

Typical signs of an infected toenail, which can be caused by an ingrown toenail, include:

  • tenderness
  • inflammation
  • pus or fluid discharge
  • significant nail-fold enlargement, which can lead to an exposed nail bed in severe cases.

Recognizing these symptoms allows you to act promptly, treating the infection and reducing discomfort.


When to See a Doctor

Consulting a healthcare provider or a foot specialist, like a podiatrist, is necessary if you have:

  • diabetes
  • nerve damage in your leg or foot
  • poor blood circulation to your foot
  • an infection around the nail

In these cases, home remedies may not provide adequate relief, and medical attention is necessary to avoid complications.

Don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re unsure about your symptoms or if home remedies are not working.


Causes and Risk Factors

Ingrown toenail infections can be triggered by various factors, including incorrect nail trimming, tight-fitting shoes, and certain health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Understanding these causes and risk factors can help you take preventive measures and reduce the likelihood of developing an ingrown toenail infection, as well as knowing when ingrown toenails occur.


Nail Care Mistakes

properly cut toenailCommon nail care mistakes that may lead to ingrown toenails include cutting nails too short and rounding the edges of nails. Cutting nails too short can result in the edges of the nail digging into the skin, potentially causing an ingrown toenail. Rounding the edges of nails may result in the nail growing into the skin, thus causing an ingrown toenail.

Avoiding these mistakes and adhering to proper nail care guidelines significantly reduce the risk of ingrown toenails.


Lifestyle and Health Factors

Injuries to the toenail, highly curved toenails, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes and poor blood flow to the feet may contribute to the development of ingrown toenail infections. Diabetes can reduce the body’s ability to heal and impair blood circulation, thus increasing the risk of ingrown toenail infections.

Research has shown that obesity can increase the risk of developing an ingrown toenail infection, as individuals who are obese are more prone to foot and ankle issues, including ingrown toenails. Being aware of these factors can help you manage your risks and maintain healthy feet.


Home Remedies for Ingrown Toenail Infections

Home remedies can be an effective first line of defense against ingrown toenail infections in mild cases. Soaking the affected foot in warm water and applying topical treatments, such as antibiotic ointments, can help alleviate pain and inflammation.


Soaking Techniques

soak ingrown toenail in epson saltSoaking the foot in warm water with Epsom salt can provide relief from pain and inflammation caused by an ingrown toenail infection.


Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a basin or tub with warm water.
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom salt per quart of warm water.
  3. Stir the water to dissolve the salt.
  4. Soak the affected foot in the water for 15-20 minutes.

Other soaking solutions, such as warm water with apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, can also be beneficial in treating ingrown toenail infections.


Topical Treatments

Topical treatments can be highly effective in managing ingrown toenail infections and treat ingrown toenails. Over-the-counter options like apple cider vinegar and antibacterial creams can help reduce pain and prevent further infection. To apply these treatments, soak the foot in warm water, place cotton wisps or dental floss under the ingrown nail to separate it from the skin, and apply an antibiotic ointment with a sterile bandage to protect the toe and reduce the risk of infection. Knowing how to properly care for your feet can help you avoid situations where you might get an ingrown toenail.

Topical treatments, such as topical antibiotic ointment, should be applied daily or as instructed by your healthcare provider.


Professional Treatment Options

If home remedies are not effective in treating an ingrown toenail infection, or if the infection is a severe ingrown toenail, professional treatment options such as surgical interventions and oral antibiotics may be necessary.


Surgical Interventions

Surgical interventions, like partial or total nail removal, may be necessary in severe cases of ingrown toenail infections or if home remedies are ineffective. Some viable surgical interventions for ingrown toenail infections include:

  • Partial nail avulsion
  • Complete nail excision with or without phenolization
  • Electrocautery
  • Radiofrequency
  • Carbon dioxide laser ablation of the nail matrix

These procedures can help alleviate pain, prevent infection, and promote healing.


Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics may be prescribed if an ingrown toenail infection is severe or if there is a risk of complications. Commonly prescribed oral antibiotics include cephalexin (Keflex), amoxicillin (Amoxil, Moxatag), and ampicillin (Omnipen).

It is important to consult a healthcare professional to gain further insight into the potential side effects of these medications and discuss their suitability for your individual situation.


Prevention Strategies

Preventing ingrown toenail infections involves proper nail trimming, wearing appropriate footwear, and taking extra precautions for those who are avid runners.

Following these strategies significantly reduces the risk of ingrown toenail infections and helps to prevent ingrown toenails, maintaining healthy feet.


Nail Trimming Tips

Proper nail trimming is a key factor in preventing ingrown toenails as it ensures the nail grows correctly. To avoid ingrown nails, trim your toenails straight across and not too short, focusing on the portion of the nail that may cause problems. It is also advisable to file the nail edge to prevent sharp edges.

Soften the nails before trimming, by soaking the feet in warm water or using olive oil, can also be beneficial in avoiding ingrown toenails.


Footwear Recommendations

Wearing suitable footwear plays a key role in preventing ingrown toenail infections. Shoes with a wider, rounded shape and a wide toe box are the most suitable for avoiding ingrown toenails. Sandals can also be a beneficial option as they provide airflow around the toe.

Selecting shoes that are comfortable and fit properly is crucial in reducing the risk of ingrown toenail infections, especially for your big toe, so it’s important to wear shoes that provide the right support.


Prevention Tips For Avid Runners

Avid runners should exercise caution to minimize the risk of ingrown toenail infections. Wearing shoes that fit correctly and are comfortable, as well as avoiding running on hard surfaces, can help prevent ingrown toenail infections.

Additionally, maintaining proper foot hygiene and regular foot inspections can assist in early detection of any preliminary signs of ingrown toenails, allowing for prompt intervention and treatment.


Post-Treatment Care

After treating an ingrown toenail infection, focusing on proper wound care and long-term prevention strategies is necessary to ensure full recovery and avoid recurrence.


Wound Care

Proper wound care after ingrown toenail treatment includes keeping the area clean, dry, and elevated, as well as using over-the-counter pain relievers and antibiotics as needed. To clean the wound, soak the foot in warm water before removing the dressing, wash hands with warm water and soap, gently dry the area, and apply antibiotic ointment after showering.

Keeping an ingrown toenail wound dry is also important for effective healing.


Long-term Prevention

Implementing long-term prevention strategies is important for maintaining healthy feet and avoiding the recurrence of ingrown toenail infections. Proper foot hygiene, including proper toenail trimming and moisturizing, can significantly contribute to the prevention of ingrown toenails.

Regular foot inspections and maintaining poor foot hygiene can lead to various issues. Wearing suitable footwear, such as shoes with a wide toe box and open-toe shoes, can also help you manage your risks and maintain healthy feet.



In conclusion, understanding how to identify, treat, and prevent ingrown toenail infections is essential for maintaining healthy feet. By following the proper nail care, footwear, and long-term prevention strategies discussed in this blog post, you can effectively tackle ingrown toenail infections and keep your feet happy and pain-free.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat an infected ingrown toenail?

Soak your foot twice daily, lift the edge of the nail, use an antibiotic cream and bandage, wear roomy shoes or sandals, and take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed to treat an infected ingrown toenail. Additionally, place a small piece of cotton or dental floss between your nail and the lifted skin to lift the skin away from your nail.


Can an infected ingrown toenail heal itself?

Minor ingrown toenails can heal on their own as the nail grows out, however infected ones require professional medical care.


What happens to an untreated infected ingrown toenail?

If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can become infected and worsen, spreading to the bone. This can cause serious conditions like sepsis or gangrene. Symptoms of an infection include inflammation, redness, and pus. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible.


What does a stage 3 ingrown toenail look like?

A Stage 3 ingrown toenail will be very painful, with severe redness and swelling, accompanied by an overgrowth of skin around the toenail and possible infection and fever.


How to fix ingrown toenail?

To treat an ingrown toenail, soak your foot in warm water mixed with salt or soap and dry it afterwards. Wear comfortable and wide shoes. Lift the edge of the nail gently and place a bandage over the affected area. Take painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, if needed, to ease discomfort. Repeat these steps for a few weeks to help the nail grow.