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Here’s How to Cut Your Toenails to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Aug 07, 2023
Ingrown toenails are a painful and pesky problem that’s fully preventable with the right steps. Cutting your toenails correctly is one key way to prevent ingrown toenails. Keep reading to learn how to cut your nails to avoid pain and infection.

Have you ever felt pain in your big toe, only to find out it's due to an ingrown toenail? If so, you know the discomfort and headaches caused by an ingrown nail, but can you prevent it?

Preventing an ingrown toenail is as simple as learning to cut your nails properly. Cutting the toenails the wrong way puts you at risk for pain and infection around the nail.

Dr. Daniel Cairns and the Toe-Tal Foot and Ankle Care team offer expert advice and treatment for various foot concerns, including ingrown toenails.

Dr. Cairns is an experienced, board-certified podiatrist who teaches you how to cut toenails to keep a pesky ingrown nail from recurring.

What are ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails are a painful problem when part of the nail grows into the toe's skin, leading to pain and inflammation. Although you can get an ingrown toenail on just about any toe, they're more prevalent in the big toes.

One of the biggest problems that follow an ingrown toenail is infection. There are a lot of bacteria on the feet, waiting for a way to get into your body. When the toenail digs into your toe's skin, it creates an outlet for bacteria to enter, leading to a painful and problematic infection.

So who gets ingrown toenails? Some people are prone to ingrown toenails due to genetics. If your parents get ingrown nails, you're also more likely to.

Other factors that increase the risk of ingrown toenails include toe trauma, shoes that don't fit well, and improperly cutting your toenails.

Properly cutting your toenails is key

Cutting your toenails correctly is one of the best ways to prevent ingrown toenails. Although toenails grow slowly, it's crucial to cut them regularly and properly to keep your nail from growing into your skin.

It's more complex than getting the nail clippers and going to town on your toenails. There are several steps to follow that ensure you're cutting the nails properly.

They include:

Choose the right clippers

When cutting toenails, choose clean nail clippers for the job. Never use scissors or other items to cut your nails, as they can be dirty or cut unevenly, which leads to problems.

When to cut your toenails

Toenails grow slowly, so you only need to cut them once every two months. However, if you're extremely active, you may want to trim them more often to prevent trauma and ingrown toenails.

Cut them when they're dry

It's usually a good idea to cut your toenails before you get a shower. When the nails get wet, they're more likely to tear when you cut them, causing an uneven nail. However, if you have extremely thick nails, waiting until after the shower might be better for an easier cut.

Don’t cut them too short

Cutting your toenails too short can increase the risk of an ingrown nail and infection. Keep your toenails at 1-2 millimeters, and make sure they don’t get too long between cuts.

Cut the nail properly

This is the most crucial step in the process. Make sure to cut your toenails straight across, not at an angle. You may need to make more than one cut with the clippers to even out the nail.

File the nail afterward

File the nail after you cut it to prevent any sharp edges from getting caught and ripping it. You should now have nice straight nails, much less prone to becoming ingrown.

Other ingrown toenail prevention measures

While cutting toenails properly is one of the most significant steps to prevent ingrown toenails, there are other prevention measures, as well.

Footwear and socks are other key components in toenail health. Ensure that your shoes fit well and that you can wiggle your toes inside them. Your socks should have room in them, too, and neither should press on your toes.

Be careful when playing sports or walking around without shoes. Traumatic injuries can damage the nail and cause it to grow into the skin of your toe. Simply stubbing your toe barefoot can lead to problems with ingrown toenails.

If you think you might have an ingrown toenail, it's best to seek expert care and treatment to prevent infection. Call us at 817-518-7348 to make an appointment with Dr. Cairns or book an appointment online for an evaluation today.