Ingrown toenails are toenails that grow into the skin that borders the nail. They can be quite painful and lead to infections that make walking hard or impossible. If your parents have ingrown toenails, then you are at an increased risk for them, too. This does not mean you will necessarily develop them, however. There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk.
Trim your nails very carefully.
In an effort to make your toenails "look pretty," you may be tempted to cut them in a curved shape. However, this makes ingrown toenails more likely, as it places the edges further down where they're better able to dig into the skin. To reduce your chances of ingrown nails, cut your toenails straight across. And make sure you're using sharp nail clippers when you trim them so you don't leave any jagged edges. Keep your nails well-trimmed, touching them up every 1 - 2 weeks.
Wear shoes with a roomy toe box.
The toe box is the part at the front of your shoe where your toes rest. A toe box that is too narrow or too shallow can put pressure on your toenails, which increases your risk of ingrown nails. So, when buying shoes, pay close attention to the toe box. Make sure it's extra roomy and that it does not press on the tops of your nails. You may need to buy shoes in a slightly larger width than your foot measurements call for. For example, if your measurements suggest you should wear a "B" width shoe, purchase a "C" width shoe to be extra cautious.
Don't spend too much time on your feet.
If possible, it's best if you steer away from jobs that will have you on your feet all day. While spending some time walking and standing each day is good for your overall health, long hours on your feet greatly increase your chances of ingrown nails as they cause the tissue in your toes (and around your nails) to swell. If you do have to take a job that has you standing all day, be sure to wear padded shoes, take breaks as often as possible, and stand on a soft matt rather than directly on a hard floor.
If you do notice that the sides of your nail are beginning to grow into your flesh, see a podiatrist like Mid Nebraska Foot Clinic sooner rather than later. They can trim the nail properly to stop the ingrown nail in its tracks.