High heels can cause painful ingrown toenails: Study

It's known that wearing high heels can cause long-term harm to women's bodies. Now, a new study has claimed that these fashion footwears are also one of the most common causes of painful ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenail occurs when the toes are compressed too much forcing the toenail to grow into the skin. Sometimes, it can become infected, necessitating the removal of the entire nail, the researchers said.

"Ingrown toenails can be painful, but many women are willing to cope with the discomfort in order to continue wearing their high heels," said study author Rodney Stuck, a professor of podiatry at the Loyola University Health System.

"However, more serious complications can arise and cause permanent damage to the toenail, if they are left untreated," Prof Stuck was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

The researchers suggested avoiding overly pointy, tight shoes and tight hosiery. Trimming the toenails straight across can also reduce the risk of ingrown nails.

Soaking the feet in lukewarm, soapy water, drying them thoroughly and then applying a mild antiseptic can prevent infection if toenails are already ingrown, they advised.

But, they said, high heels can harm more than just the toes. Research has already linked high heels in youth to heel and ankle pain in older adults.

A 2009 study, published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, found that more than 60 per cent of women reported wearing shoes with poor support, including heels, pumps and sandals, compared with only 2 per cent of men.

In women, wearing these shoes in the past was linked with heel and ankle pain. Heels can even reshape the calf muscles and tendons, shortening them so that women who wear heels often may find it uncomfortable to walk flat-footed.

According to a 2010 study, dancing in heels distributes pressure toward the toes that can lead to plantar fasciitis, the painful swelling of the bottom of the feet.

It's not only heels that cause problems. Flip-flops, with their total lack of support, can change the gait, too, the researchers said.

Stuck recommended that women limit their time in heels, especially on days when walking and standing are in the cards.

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