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Close up of runner's shoes and feet during a road race

Running with Ingrown Toenails: How to Manage Discomfort and Avoid Infection

Ingrown toenails are the most common nail problem. And with toenails being put under pressure when running, combining the two can be challenging, but not totally out of the question.

Although running with ingrown toenails can be uncomfortable and increase the risk of infection, it is doable. There are steps you can take to manage the discomfort and reduce the risk of complications.

This article discusses tips on managing the pain associated with running with an ingrown toenail and ways to prevent infection. Don’t let an ingrown toenail stop you from your running routine; read on to learn more!

Can I run with an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenail

Yes. If the ingrown toenail is mild, and you take the proper precautions, you can safely run. The key is to manage discomfort and do your best to reduce the risk of complications or infection. However, there is a difference between whether you can run versus should run, and you should weigh the pros and cons outlined below.

First, it’s important to note that running with an ingrown toenail can worsen the condition and increase the risk of complications. If the pain is severe or you experience signs of infection, like redness, swelling, or discharge, seek medical attention immediately.

If the ingrown toenails worsen, see a chiropodist or other healthcare professional. They may recommend antibiotics, specialized treatment or surgery to remove part of the affected nail.

How to manage discomfort when running with an ingrown toenail

Close up View Of A Beautician's Hand Cutting Client's Toenails

To enjoy running with ingrown toenails, you must take steps to control the discomfort, reduce the risk of complications and keep the pain at bay. Here are some tips:

  • Monitor pain and symptoms: There’s no denying that physical activity can aggravate ingrown toenails. Sports with ground forces due to athletic activity, obesity or constricting footwear aid overlapping lateral nail fold penetration.
  • Trim the toenail properly: If the ingrown toenail is mild, you can trim it yourself. Use a clean pair of nail clippers and cut the nail straight across without rounding the edges. Cutting straight across prevents the nail from growing into the adjacent skin. If your ingrown toenail is more persistent, inflamed or painful, you should see a chiropodist for treatment to prevent any risks and complications. 
  • Trim the toenail using toenail clippers: Avoid using fingernail clippers for your toenails. The strength and thickness of our toenails demand a more rigid tool to trim effectively.
  • Wear proper shoes: Wear shoes that fit correctly and provide enough room for your toes to move freely. Tight or narrow shoes can crowd the toes and increase the risk of ingrown toenails.
  • Take pain medication: Pain relievers can help to manage the discomfort associated with ingrown toenails.
  • See a chiropodist for professional treatment: If your ingrown toenail is painful, inflamed, or has persisted for a long time, you should book an appointment with a chiropodist to have it properly and safely treated. This will reduce the risk of infection and allow you to resume running pain-free.

How to avoid infection when running with an ingrown toenail?

A pair of Asics running shoes

To prevent your ingrown toenail from worsening while running, taking the proper measures to avoid infection is vital. You can take steps to manage the discomfort and reduce the risk of complications when running with ingrown toenails. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the affected toenail clean: Wash the affected toe with soap and water daily, and keep it dry. A clean and dry site will help to prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Apply topical treatments: You can use over-the-counter antiseptic or antibiotic ointments to the affected area to help prevent infection. 
  • Use clean toenail clippers (and maybe one from our top picks): Don’t use someone else’s nail clippers; clean them off before use. Bacteria are invisible to the eye, so be safe with what you put your feet in contact with. For instance, you wouldn’t want to risk catching the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.
  • Apply a bandage over the ingrown toenail: Once you’ve cleaned the affected toenail, apply a bandage over the toenail before starting your run. This will help prevent any outside bacteria from penetrating the nail and surrounding skin.

Do you have an ingrown toenail? Your solutions live at Feet First Clinic

Whether it’s toenail trimming, ingrown toenail removal, and proper footwear, we have it—all under one roof. Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Online Today!

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.