The chief function of toenails is to protect the toes. Like your hair, skin and fingernails, your toenails are made up of keratin. Keratin is a type of protein that makes your toenails tough and resistant to many outside elements. But sometimes, due to various causes, our nails can experience some painful conditions. One of these is having curved toenails.
Having curved toenails bring a lot of pain, accompanied by swelling and redness. If left unchecked and untreated, it could lead to infections. People who have this condition may notice that the skin becomes hard at first, followed by the formation of pus or fluid in the adjoining area.
What is it?
A curved toenail, also called as a pincer nail, is a nail deformity where the sides of the toenail make an inward curl, digging into the skin. It results to what is called as the “ingrown toenail” because the sides of the nail grows directly into the skin, instead of growing straight and outward, becoming embedded inside it.
You may set the stage for an ingrown toenail if you trim your toenails too short, particularly on the sides of your big toes. When you trim your toenails, trim them like the shape of your toes by tapering the corners. However, this technique may encourage your toenail to grow into the skin of your toe. The edge of the toenail forms a curl which digs into your skin at the side or end of the toe. A curled ingrown nail is most likely to happen especially if you wear an ill-fitting footwear.
What causes it?
According to the National Health Services, curved toenails may be more common in people with sweaty feet, such as teenagers. Both males and females can suffer curved toenails. Older people may also be at higher risk because toenails thicken with age.
The main factors which can cause this condition include:
This is one of the most common reasons for having a curved toenail. It happens if the toe has suffered some kind of damage, such as the toe collided head-on with a blunt object. This can effectively change the overall course of nail growth, which causes it to grow in an unfavorable direction.
The big toe is the most susceptible to inner curved nails, because it is usually the first one to make an impact and absorbs almost all the shock.
It also doesn’t necessarily have to be a one-time incident. People who engage in a lot of athletic activities which put a lot of pressure on the toe end of their feet may also experience this.
Your shoes typically compensate for the lack of space by getting scrunched close together, when wearing shoes that are smaller than the appropriate size. You will notice your nails naturally start to curve inwards because of the constant pressure on them if you wear smaller shoes for a long enough time.
It is recommended to buy properly sized shoes. Don’t rely on your gut feel or guesswork. Even shoes with pre-determined sizes are still not reliable indications that it fits exactly to your foot. You should be particularly careful when choosing shoes for children, as their feet grow really fast because of growth spurts.
There are toes that are too small to accommodate the growth of the nails. As a result, the toenails gravitate inwards, forming an uncharacteristic curl.
This is by far the most common reason for an ingrown toenail. Most people cut their nails by following the curve of this toe. But cutting nails this way encourages the side of the nail to make a curl and dig into the skin. It is advised that you cut in straight lines to avoid potential in-growth.
Sweaty feet that are not regularly cleaned and dried are most likely to develop this condition. It is advised that you thoroughly wash your feet every day and trim your nails every few weeks.
Some people more prone to having curved ingrown toenails due to genetics.
Recent studies show that iron and zinc deficiency causes the nails to curve inwards, which makes them more susceptible to trauma and injury.
Using your feet extensively during athletic activities can make you especially prone to getting curved toenails. Activities in which you repeatedly kick an object or put pressure on your feet for long periods of time can also cause toenail damage and increase your risk of ingrown toenails. These activities include:
What are the symptoms?
Curved toenails can be painful, and they usually worsen in stages:
Early-stage symptoms include:
- Skin surrounding the toenail feels tender, swollen or hard
- Pain when pressure is placed on the toe
- Fluid building up around the toe
If your toe becomes infected, symptoms include:
- Red, swollen skin
- Oozing pus
- Overgrowth of skin around the toe
It is important to prevent having curved toenails rather than looking up for things on how to treat it. Here are some of the tips in order to prevent having curved toenails.
- Move around carefully to avoid toenail trauma
- Trim your toenails straight across, no shorter than the tip of your toe
- If your job increases your risk of toenail injury, wear protective footgear
Treatment options for curved toenails
Treating your curved toenails is a must as soon as they occur, to avoid infection. Mild cases may require minor treatment with some home remedies, while some serious cases may need surgical intervention.
There are lots of home remedies you can try to treat curved toenails.
- Soak in warm, soapy water
- Soak in apple cider vinegar
- Pack the area with dental floss or cotton
- Apply antibiotic ointment
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Use a toe protector
- Try a toe brace
- See a doctor about oral antibiotics
- Consider nail removal
According to the NHS, partial nail removal is 98 percent effective for preventing future ingrown toenails. Surgery for toenail treatments come in different types. Partial nail removal involves removing just the portion of the nail which is digging into your skin. The doctor comes over and numbs your toe before narrowing the affected toenail.
Here are some products available in the market today which could help treat your curved toenails.
This clipper is designed for thick and brittle toenails caused by nail fungal infection, damage or aging. This is the most recommended by professional podiatrists since this product is very sharp and durable and also comes with an ergonomic design. Plus it is also made of surgical grade stainless steel built-in spring which comes with a plastic safety cover and metal custom storage box to keep it safe and clean.
This product was designed to easily clip nails, making it the best toenail clippers for ingrown toenails, thick nails and they can assist in toenail fungus treatment as needed. This nippit handle allows optimum grip flexibly because they know that good tools should fit as many hands as possible. Each blade is finished by hand and is the last step in the 14 part manufacturing process which ensures the blades meet cleanly and require the least effort possible to get a great clip.
This is a very effective tool, this clipper tackles the driest, toughest toenails with ease and precision without tearing or ruining your nails. Plus, it includes a protective cap to help produce the ultra-sharp blade when not in use, and long handles which is an ergonomic design for ease of use.
This is made of high-quality stainless steel and is a great tool for cutting thick nails because the blade is able to open wider than 1 inch. Also, the blade of this nipper is very sharp and they have a pointy tip to help fix ingrown toenails. And this nipper comes with a 2 styles safety tips cover and user guide is included in the package.
This is ideal for those people who have flexibility or dexterity issues, or those who suffer underlying conditions like diabetes and arthritis. This is lightweight and easy to store away, and its swivel action will put an end to awkward twisting helping you find a comfortable angle to trim your nails.
This product gives a professional looking manicure or pedicure, because of its high-quality stainless steel. Plus, it is very easy to use and it looks modern and stylish, feels sturdy and lightweight, and will not slip out of your hand due to the matte, brush steel finish.
Minor foot problems like curved toenails may cause serious complications in some people. Ingrown toenails may cause severe pain and infection which could spread to the bone if left untreated.