How to Clip Your Nails to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail

Mar 01, 2024

If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail, just hearing the words may cause you to wince in pain. They’re a common problem, accounting for 20% of foot problems in primary care practices. 

The best way to treat the problem is to prevent the problem in the first place, and one of the best preventive methods is trimming your nails properly. Read on to find out exactly how to do that, courtesy of your friends at Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists of Arizona.

What’s an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail occurs when the hard corner of your toenail grows into the soft skin of your toe instead of out and away from your toe. 

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include redness, swelling, pain and tenderness, and signs of infection, such as pus oozing from the infected area.

An untreated ingrown toenail might lead to gangrene (tissue death) and even amputation if you have a complicating condition that affects your circulation, such as diabetes.

Treating an ingrown toenail

Ingrown toenails are generally caused by wearing shoes that are too tight, suffering a foot injury, or clipping your toenails incorrectly. 

Treatment options include lifting the toenail away from your skin with a piece of dental floss, placing a gutter splint underneath the nail to guide its growth away from your toe, and even removing part of your toenail.

Preventing an ingrown toenail

The best way to keep from getting ingrown toenails is to trim your nails correctly so they don’t have a chance to grow into your skin.

To start, only use clippers designed for toenails (not fingernail clippers). Don’t clip your nails immediately after a shower, when they’re softer; make sure they’re dry and firm. 

Here’s the big tip: Cut your toenails straight across, not in a curved shape. Nails with rounded corners, especially if trimmed far back, tend to grow downward into your skin, causing them to become ingrown.

Clipping the nails straight across helps keep them elevated above the skin, making it much harder to grow into the skin.

Also, trim the nails even with the end of your toenail bed. Don’t let them grow out too far or trim them back into the nail bed area. Aim to trim your nails about every six weeks, or more often if they grow faster.

If you’re dealing with an ingrown toenail and need professional treatment, our team at Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists of Arizona is here to help. Call our Chandler, Arizona, office at 480-963-9000 or book your appointment online today.