With any foot-related condition, your choice of footwear naturally plays a significant role in things, whether it is helping to remedy the problem, just not making the problem worse, or even not causing a problem in the first place. In the case of ingrown toenails, your choice of footwear can factor into all of these.
Ill-fitting shoes can actually cause ingrown toenails in the first place, and they can certainly make matters worse once you have an ingrown toenail. The truth is your shoes will not cure your ingrown toenail problem, but they can certainly make your life that little bit easier while the issue is dealt with.
What is an Ingrown Toenail?
As the name suggests, an ingrown toenail is a toenail that grows into the skin around the nail, rather than outwards as it is supposed to do. This condition is most likely to happen to the big toes, though it can happen with any toe.
Ingrown toenails are nearly always uncomfortable and can be incredibly painful in cases where the situation has been left alone without treatment for too long. We’ll go into a little more detail for things like the causes and treatments of this condition at the end of the post, but for now, suffice it to say that your footwear is not a passive party in this situation. Not only can your choice of footwear exacerbate your ingrown toenail problems, but it can also cause them in the first place.
One of the causes of ingrown toenails is prolonged periods of excessive pressure on the toenails, forcing them against the skin. There is no inherent “direction” of growth for a toenail, and if it is forced into a particular position, it will just continue growing in that direction whether or not there is a toe in the way!
From this point, it shouldn’t take a medical degree to understand why this is a bad thing or why it might cause you discomfort as your toenail burrows into your own flesh. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of your shoe’s potentially antagonistic role. Even if your shoes weren’t the reason you developed an ingrown toenail in the first place, they could make the situation worse by putting more pressure on the ingrown toenail and further aggravating the skin around it. The last thing you want when you have something cutting into your toe is pressure being applied to that something.
Spotting the Best Shoes for Ingrown Toenails
As you might expect, the main thing you are looking for in your footwear when you have ingrown toenails is space, particularly in the toe area. The idea is to reduce the amount of pressure your toes will experience during your typical daily routine, and the easiest way to do that is to ensure your toes are not cramped inside your shoes.
The next thing to look out for is the weight. Even with plenty of room inside the toe area of your shoes, if they are heavy, your shoes will likely press down on your toes when you walk, aggravating the situation. Though it’s not necessarily as crucial to look out for, very flexible footwear can also help to mitigate this problem. If the shoes have a little more give in them, they are not going to impart as much resistance on your feet as they naturally push against the insides of the shoe.
Ultimately, once you have an ingrown toenail, the best you can hope for from your shoes is not make the problem any worse than it already is. You will need to seek other means of actually curing the ailment. But if, as is the case with some people, you are prone to getting ingrown toenails, using the right kind of footwear can significantly reduce the chances of you developing another bout of it.
So, to that end, we have compiled eight of our best shoes for ingrown toenails into this post so that you have some options to choose from right off the bat. That being said, this is not the entirety of ingrown toenail suitable shoes in existence. If you don’t like the look of any of our picks, you can certainly find other good shoes for ingrown toenails; just be sure to check for the things we mentioned above; plenty of space around the toes, lightweight, and, ideally, flexible. So, let’s get into our picks for the best shoes for ingrown toenails, 2020 edition.
1. Dr. Comfort Carter Men’s Casual Shoe
The company was confident enough to put “comfort” in their name, and we have to say; this shoe does not disappoint in that department. This is a slip-on shoe with an adjustable velcro strap to allow you to get the fit just right. It is made from breathable lycra that has the added bonus of making the shoe machine washable.
Inside, you will find a padded heel and tongue that should help keep your feet snug and secure in the shoe without placing uncomfortable pressure on you. Despite this padding, there is plenty of support from the midsole.
2. Dansko Women’s Professional Shoes
Dankso hasn’t put “professional” in the name of this shoe for nothing. A very smart and formal looking slip-on shoe made with genuine leather uppers and polyurethane outsoles, this shoe features a memory foam cushioned footbed for maximum comfort. There is also a padded collar to ensure your ankle is just as comfortable as your footbed.
Of course, the main reason Dansko Women’s Professional Shoes have found their way onto this list is the ample toe box room that they offer. You shouldn’t have any problem sliding your toes into these shoes without rubbing against the inside of the shoe.
These shoes are available in a ludicrously large selection of different designs, many of which are well suited to a formal environment, while some others might be more at home at a music festival.
3. Skechers Performance Men’s Go Walk 4 Incredible Walking Shoe
One of the simplest designs on this list, Sketchers’ offering is a slip-on shoe whose upper is made entirely from a lightweight, flexible material that makes the shoe both comfortable and easy to slide in and out of.
The fabric that makes up the upper sections is breathable, which is to be expected from a shoe designed for use on long treks. Another thing you would expect from this kind of shoe is an excellent grip, which the Go Walk happily provides.
In terms of toe box size, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about these shoes. However, the flexible and lightweight nature of the shoe means that your toes will not face the same level of pressure that they would in a sturdier shoe with less toe box room. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend these shoes if you already have a bad case of an ingrown toenail, but they would be a good shoe to wear if you want to avoid getting an ingrown toenail in the future.
4. Ryka Women’s Devotion Plus 2
For a very traditional looking sneaker-come walking shoe, Ryka’s Devotion Plus 2 is a very comfortable shoe that offers plenty of support. It features a molded EVA outsole that works to keep your footsteps as cushioned as possible, while the breathable upper sections should help to keep your feet fresh and dry.
Once again, however, the star of the show is the toe box, which is both wider and higher than your average toe box, providing ample room for you to get around without aggravating your ingrown toenails. There is a huge range of designs to choose from, from plain colors to interesting designs.
5. Clarks Women’s Sillian Bella Mary Jane Flat
Clarks’ entry into this list is a Mary Jane flat shoe that is a little bit sporty. They are comfortable to wear, and their slip-on nature makes them easy to slide on and off.
The rubber outsoles are shock-absorbing, which should help reduce the stress on your toes when walking. They are also very durable outsoles and should be able to stand up to quite a bit of use. The uppers are lightweight and flexible, while Ortholite foam ensures that your feet are comfortable while ensuring they are securely on your feet.
You can get some adjustments thanks to the velcro strap, and, of course, there is plenty of room in the toe box. There are a few different designs to choose from, though they are all very subtle offerings that amount to different shades of black and gray for the most part.
6. Apex Men’s Athletic
The full name of this company is Apex Foot Health Industries, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are making shoes with the health of your feet in mind. Their Men’s Athletic shoe is a traditional-looking sneaker from the outside, but with plenty of features to boast.
Firstly, the outsole is slip-resistant and very flexible, while the specially designed support system provides plenty of stability.
Of course, there is plenty of room in the toe box, and the flexible nature of the shoe should help further reduce problems as a result of pressure on your toes. Finally, there is plenty of breathability in these shoes, which should help keep your feet from cooking in their own juices.
7. Rockport Women’s Aubrey
For something a little more free and summery, Rockport’s Aubrey dress pump brings you that high-backed sandal look. Granted, high-backed sandals aren’t usually the first thing to come to mind when you are talking about toe comfort, but these dress pumps have a nice spacious protected toe area to keep your toes comfortable and safe.
As you might expect, these are ideal for those warmer months, thanks to the mostly open design. They are also adjustable thanks to the T strap and sport a cushioned EVA footbed for additional comfort.
8. ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes
The final pick for our best shoes for ingrown toenails list is another lightweight and flexible sneaker, this time a running shoe. The upper of the Venture 6 is a combination of synthetic leather and breathable mesh, giving the shoe a good degree of durability while still keeping it flexible.
As you would expect from a running shoe, the outsole offers excellent traction while the midsole provides plenty of cushioning to keep your feet comfortable on those long runs.
Of course, while all of this is good, it is the very roomy toe box that earned the Venture 6 its spot on this list. You can also get this shoe in a substantial range of designs, from some subtly different color schemes to quite striking options.
How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenails can be incredibly painful, and they rarely go away by themselves. So, how might you deal with this problem if it crops up? The basic premise of curing an ingrowing toenail is that you are correcting the way the nail grows. In most cases, if you can set your nail back on the right path, that will be enough to remedy the problem. Most of the time, this will just involve lifting the nail up. However, if things get too far along, you may need more severe action, such as partial removal of the nail or removal of some of the nail and some of the tissue it has grown into.
Needless to say, these last two methods are not something you should attempt on your own and will require minor surgery to achieve. If you can resolve the issue yourself in the early stages, you will save yourself considerable discomfort in the long term.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails And How to Prevent Them
We mentioned at the top of this post that footwear that is too tight around the toes could cause ingrown toenails, but there are several other factors that can cause this problem. Indeed, it may be a combination of factors all working together, rather than just one cause. In no particular order, here are the common causes of ingrown toenails, as well as the actions you can take to prevent each of these causes, or at least mitigate the effect they have.
We’ll kick things off with the star of this particular post; footwear. If you are wearing shoes that are very tight around the toes, they can push on your toenails, forcing them to grow down and out. Once the growing edge of your toenail has gained enough of a footing in the toe to hold it in place, it will continue to grow in that direction.
The solution to this one is very straightforward—wear shoes that are not too tight around the toe area. Or any other area, for that matter, as all manner of problems can be caused by wearing shoes that are uncomfortable.
Cutting Toenails Incorrectly
As we’ve already touched on in this post, your toenails do not have some hardcoded blueprint for how they should grow. They kind of just grow forward blindly, and if they are somehow redirected, they will grow that way too. When you cut your toenails with the sides angled, it encourages the nail to grow to the sides as well as forwards, which is where your problems can start, seeing as that is where your toe skin is.
So, how do you prevent this? When you cut your toenails, cut straight across as much as you can, and do not cut your toenail right back to where it meets the nail bed. The closer the leading edge of your nail is to your toe, the higher the likelihood that it could veer off course and start growing into the skin.
Unfortunately, this one is not necessarily something you can prevent. If your toenails have started to grow curved because of external pressure from things like your shoes, then buying better shoes and trimming your nails back should be enough. However, if your toenails just grow that way, you may have to work on preventative measures rather than fixing the problem.
You will need to check your toes more regularly than the average person might. The problem here is that the more ingrown a toenail gets, the more difficult it is to deal with, so you don’t want to let your curving toenail start growing into your toe. If you find it doing so, poke the nail up out of where it is attempting to grow in. If you can do it without going against the advice above, trim the nail back a bit.
Though it is less likely in people who do not have toenails that are already growing in such a way that would make ingrown toenails more likely, a hard enough impact in the right place can be the event that causes ingrown toenails to happen. As we mentioned, it is when the growing edge of the toenail manages to lodge itself in the skin well enough to remain there as it grows that causes the ingrown toenail, and a hard enough knock from, say, stubbing your toe or kicking something, can be enough to jam part of your toenail into your toe.
The easiest solution to this is to not kick things with your toes, of course, but assuming it is too late for preventative measures, you will have to deal with your sore toe as quickly as possible by pushing the toe edge out of your skin before has chance to start growing in that direction.
Poor Foot Hygiene
Failure to keep your feet dry and clean can result in your toes growing misshapen. Of course, poor foot hygiene can result in a lot of problems besides this, but ingrown toenails are certainly one of them.
Of course, the solution to this is to improve your foot hygiene. Be sure to wash them thoroughly, regularly change your socks, and let your feet breathe as much as possible. This can mean using breathable footwear, but taking the opportunity to kick your shoes and socks off (when appropriate, of course) and let your feet breathe is highly recommended.
Technically speaking, this cause has been covered by the “Toe Injuries” section, but it is worth a mention because a toe injury can be a one-time event that people rarely experience, whereas these activities greatly increase the chances that you could develop ingrown toenails as a result of an impact.
Activities like ballet, football, and kickboxing all significantly increase the chances that your feet might be subjected to the kind of impact that can result in ingrown toenails. The ideal course of action would be to stop taking part in those activities, but we understand that’s not likely to be an acceptable solution for you. So, unfortunately, you will just have to keep a close eye on your toes an