If one or both of your parents have ingrown toenails, you are at an increased risk of developing them yourself. This is simply because the shape of your toes probably resembles that of your parents, and toe and toenail shape is closely related to the risk of developing ingrown toenails. However, this does not mean that you are definitely doomed to developing ingrown nails. There are some things you can do, over your lifetime, to reduce your risk.
Wear shoes with a spacious toe box.
Many people wear shoes that are too narrow. If you are buying cheaper shoes, they may only come in different lengths, but not different widths. And if you are wider than a "B" or medium width, your toes are probably a little squished from side to side. This can lead to ingrown toenails over time. If you have a wider foot, it's worth shopping at a higher-end shoe store that offers varied widths. Try on C and D-width shoes, and ultimately, make sure the shoes you wear don't press on your toes.
Cut straight across.
Some people cut their toenails in a curved shape, either because they think doing so will keep the corners from poking into their toes, or because they think their toenails look nice this way. But actually, cutting straight across is less likely to contribute to ingrown toenails. Cut your toenails often, too, so you're not removing too much each time you cut. This makes it easier for you to get a precise, straight cut across the top.
Protect your toenails.
Sometimes ingrown nails start growing after someone with a toenail of a certain shape suffers a toenail injury. So, if you can ward off toenail injuries, you will decrease your risk of ingrown nails. Wear steel-toe boots when working around anything heavy that could fall on your foot. Limit participation in sports like soccer, which involve a lot of kicking that could cause a toenail injury. Even distance running can cause toenail injuries, especially if you wear shoes that don't fit well. Consider cutting back on your distance and training on softer surfaces to limit concussion on the toes.
If you are genetically predisposed to developing ingrown toenails, then you should take some precautions to try and avoid trauma and pressure to your toes. Talk to a podiatrist for more advice; they may even recommend orthotics to wear inside your shoes, further alleviating pressure on the nails.
For more information about ingrown toenails, talk to a podiatrist today.