Why Ingrown Toenails Occur Often in Winter

As we say goodbye to bare feet and open-toed shoes and turn to more appropriate winter footwear, your risks for developing an ingrown toenail increase.

To avoid this potentially painful problem, the podiatry team at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle want to emphasize a few steps you can take to keep your toes (and nails) healthy this winter.

Here’s a look at why ingrown toenails are more prevalent in winter and what you can do to prevent them.

Behind ingrown toenails

An ingrown toenail develops when the edges of your nail grow into your flesh, rather than up and over it. Ingrown toenails most often affect your big toe, but they can develop in your smaller toes. There are many reasons why ingrown toenails develop, chief among them:

Of these common risk factors, we want to focus on the last one on this list — cramming your toes into tight spaces.

During the summer, your feet have more opportunity to “breathe” as we tend to wear sandals and other shoes that provide plenty of room for your toes to spread out. When winter rolls around, however, we switch over to closed-toe shoes and socks, which can confine your feet.

This confinement can hamper how your toenails grow out, compressing them to the point where they grow into the flesh surrounding your nail. When this happens, it can lead to a surprising amount of pain for such a small problem, and wearing any shoes or socks becomes an exercise in discomfort. In severe cases, an ingrown toenail can become infected, which is especially problematic for people who have diabetes.

Protecting your toes this winter

Now that we better understand why ingrown toenails are more common during the winter months, let’s take a look at how you can avoid them.

Since tight footwear is one of the leading causes of ingrown toenails, it’s important that you wear shoes with roomy toe boxes to allow space for your toes room to spread out. 

As well, try and avoid wearing thick socks that take up too much space. Modern fabrics do the work of older, thicker fabrics (think of those big, old wool socks) but are much thinner and do a better job of wicking away moisture.

Another great tip for preventing ingrown toenails during the winter is to continue the great job you do during the summer of tending to your feet. It’s all too easy to let your toenails grow out a little more during the winter since they’re not on display, but we urge you to continue to clean and trim your toenails diligently during the winter. Be sure not to cut your toenails too short and trim them straight across so that the edges don’t make their way into your flesh.

If you do develop an ingrown toenail, come see us right away as we can quickly remedy the problem so that you can continue to keep your feet warm and dry this winter.

To learn more about preventing ingrown toenails this winter or for treatment of your existing ingrown toenail, contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, or Lebanon, Tennessee.

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