Ingrown toenails are no laughing matter. Painful and ugly, onychocryptosis, the medical term for the condition, is a common ailment that afflicts people from all walks of life. Potential causes for this emergency and often painful condition are many; however, usually it's brought on by something so simple as to be overlooked as insignificant. Let's have a brief look at just a few of the most ordinary causes, and remedies, of the common ingrown nail.

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

• Poorly Fitting Footwear – Poorly fitting, or low-quality, footwear is the most common cause of ingrown nails. Shoes that are too small or too tight force the foot and toes to cramp and bend in unintended and undesirable ways. When a shoe is too short or overly tight, the toes are bunched together, uncomfortably, which can cause nails to become bent downwards, or inward. From this point, ingrown nails are just around the corner. Socks and hose, when overly tight, can also be contributors to the problem.

• Improper Nail Trimming – Improper trimming of the toenails can also result in onychocryptosis. When the nails are trimmed too short, they often will turn downwards and grow into the toe.

• Poor Hygiene – Poor hygiene is another factor in the formation of ingrown nails. Basically, if the toes are continuously kept in a moist, warm environment, such as sweaty socks or shoes, without proper cleaning, the nails can become soft and more easily susceptible to deformation which, when combined with overly restrictive footwear, can lead to ingrown nails.

• Injury – Injuries caused by dropping a heavy object on the toes, tripping, or kicking, can often contribute to the development of onychocryptosis.

Remedies for Ingrown Toenails

Take Care of Your Feet – Generally, ingrown nails can be prevented by taking good care of your feet.

• Foot Care Tip # 1 – Choose and wear shoes that are a good fit for your feet. Never wear shoes that are too small or narrow. Be sure your shoes have adequate toe space to keep your toes from bunding together. When trying new shoes, ensure that your toes, and toenails, do not touch the interior end of the shoe.

• Foot Care Tip # 2 – Keep your feet clean and free of sweat and other moisture. Wear clean socks and change them often. Wash your feet conscientiously each morning and night. If your feet are prone to excess sweating, consider using absorbent pads to soak up the extra sweat; however, if you do, be sure to change the pads regularly as old, worn out absorbent pads are really no better than nothing at all.

• Foot Care Tip # 3 – Trim your toenails, and do it correctly. Basically, you should cut your toenails straight across, avoiding any curvature in the cut. Curved nails are more likely to become ingrown.

See a Podiatrist – In some cases, ingrown nails are the product of disease, like diabetes. If you suspect this might be the case for you, do not attempt a home remedy. See a podiatrist, instead. An accurate diagnosis might be beneficial to more than just your toes.

Ingrown toenails are always unwanted guests. They're unsightly, painful, and sometimes indicators of a more serious condition. To avoid ingrown toenails, take good care of your feet, and see a doctor when necessary.