Perhaps not the most glamorous injury, but ingrown toenails are easily one of the more common and painful foot problems around. In fact, in a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, they were listed in the top three with heel pain and blisters as the other most common complaints.
Also known as Onychocryptosis, there are a variety of ways an athlete could suffer from the problem. Excessive pressure on the outside of the great toe, stubbing or having a toe stepped on, tight socks and shoes, even improper trimming of your nails can cause ingrown toenails. Don't forget the dreaded toenail fungus (Onychomycosis) which can cause an abnormally shaped nail that tends to get ingrown.
The pain isn't easy to deal with, as most athletes are usually always on their feet! With running and most other sports being a dynamic in nature, training and racing with an ingrown toenail can be incredibly painful. Soreness and sensitivity along the margins of the toenails may lead to infection (watery discharge, blood, pus). If infected, immediately visit a podiatrist.
If uninfected, treat the feet by soaking them in either salt or warm soapy water. Drying them thoroughly, applying a mild antiseptic solution, and bandaging the toe will make a difference.
However, if the athlete takes proper care of their feet, ingrown toenails can be certainly prevented. Make sure your shoes are long and wide enough. Don't forget that socks come in sizes as well. Cut your nails straight across. Keep your toenail clipper clean. Treat fungus as soon as it shows it's ugly head! And most impartantly, do not pick at them or try to perform bathroom surgery!