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Your Aches and Pains Addressed: Ingrown Toenails

Dancers are rightfully proud of the battle wounds on their feet! But not all bad-looking things are good. Case in point: ingrown toenails, which can be debilitating for dancers. DS spoke with podiatrist Dr. Bryan Hersh, DPM, of the Center for Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, IL, about this all-too-common condition.


What are ingrown toenails?

An ingrown toenail is the result of the edge of your toenail growing or digging into the skin next to it. "While your nails may have a natural curve where the edges meet the surrounding skin, ingrown nails occur when the edges grow too far, aggravating the skin and causing redness, swelling and pain," Hersh explains. "If early symptoms are ignored, the area can become infected and filled with pus as the nail digs deeper."

What causes them?

Ingrown nails are often caused by cutting the edges of the nail too short, as well as repetitive stress and pressure on the toes and nails, especially while wearing tight shoes. It's no surprise that pointe shoes are a common culprit!

How to Deal

If the pain is bearable and there aren't any warning signs of an infection, Hersh recommends home remedies, such as soaking your feet in a bath of warm water and Epsom salt bath for 20 minutes and applying an over-the-counter antibiotic cream. However, if the condition doesn't improve, or if the nail appears to be infected, Hersh advises seeing a podiatrist for professional treatment—severe cases could require minor surgery.

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