Ingrown toenails are one of the most common diseases affecting the nail and surrounding areas. In fact, they’re so common that you or someone close to you has most likely suffered from them in the past. The condition affects over 20% of podiatry patients, and can result in infections, inflammation and tissue hypertrophy. Many anatomic and behavioral factors are thought to contribute to ingrown toenails, such as improper trimming, repetitive or inadvertent trauma, genetic predisposition, hyperhidrosis, and poor foot hygiene.
The most common of these predisposing factors are excessive trimming of the lateral nail plate and plantar (foot) hyperhidrosis. According to a recent clinical study, over 58% of patients suffering from ingrown toenails also suffered from hyperhidrosis of the feet.
Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating that most commonly affects the hands, feet, and underarms, but can also affect the face and head. Those who suffer from the condition are more susceptible to developing ingrown toenails, as toenails can more easily penetrate surrounding tissue when it is moist and soft. Those suffering from plantar hyperhidrosis will regularly sweat through socks and shoes, regardless of external factors. Therefore, unless the patient is constantly changing footwear and drying off, which can be inconvenient and nearly impossible in certain situations, their feet remain moist all day. This makes them more likely to develop ingrown toenails, among other infections and conditions affecting the foot, through no fault of their own.
Medical documentation linking hyperhidrosis to ingrown toenails dates at least as far back as 1937, where an article published by surgeon J.J Kirschenmann links perspiration to ingrown toenails. In a 1958 article released in The British Journal of Surgery, orthopedic surgeon A.W. Fowler stated that sweat leads to maceration of the nail-groove and this, together with dirt, will predispose to ulceration and infection, which are characteristics of an ingrown toenail. He also noted that excessive sweat was the root cause of 26% of patients that were suffering from an imbedded toenail.
While the link has been researched and documented for decades, it is still seldom talked about! The problem lies in the fact that not many people are aware that excessive sweating is a medical condition, as sweating from the feet is common, and normal to a certain extent. Therefore, many don’t seek treatment, and often will not attribute ingrown toenails to it, but rather associate it to something else, or just disregard the cause completely. Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful, and by not pinpointing the cause, you are subjecting yourself to recurring painful incidences.
If you think your sweating levels are excessive, and you always feel like you’re sweating more than those around you, then you’re probably suffering from hyperhidrosis. Thankfully, highly effective treatment is available! The most effective way to treat ingrown toenails is by treating the underlying condition first. If you’re suffering from hyperhidrosis, then treating the root of the problem is a surefire way to treat and prevent future occurrences. Think of it like treating two conditions at once!
One of the most effective ways to treat hyperhidrosis is iontophoresis treatment. Unlike other treatments available on the market, iontophoresis is non-invasive, drug-free, and needle-free. Dermadry has created a home-use tap water iontophoresis device to treat hyperhidrosis of the hands, feet, and underarms. The device works by conducting a small current through the skin to neutralize sweat glands, which in the vast majority of cases drastically reduces excessive sweating, with results that can provide up to six weeks of dryness!
If your feet are dry you’re less likely to develop ingrown toenails, as having softened skin around your toenails makes it easier for the nail to pierce the skin and embed itself within it. So if you suffer from ingrown toenails, take a moment to ask yourself if you also suffer from excessive sweating, as it may be the cause of your problem. If you’re unsure, speak to your podiatrist or medical professional at your next appointment. If you’d like to learn more about hyperhidrosis and iontophoresis, visit us here!