After getting your ingrown toenail treated, your hope is to avoid getting this painful condition again. Unfortunately, due to genetics or lifestyle factors, ingrown toenails can be a recurring phenomenon for some people.
If you get ingrown toenails over and over again, the welcome news is that some simple lifestyle changes can prevent you from ever having the problem again. Being very careful about how you cut your toenails dramatically reduces ingrown toenail recurrence.
Find out from Ryan Golub, DPM, and Zachary Flynn, DPM, AACFAS, podiatrists at Arizona Foot Health in Phoenix, Arizona, how to best cut your toenails to prevent ingrown toenails.
About ingrown toenails
You get an ingrown toenail when one of your toenails, most frequently the nail on your big toe, grows into your skin instead of growing out. After your toenail grows inward, it appears red, inflamed, and can swell.
Ingrown toenails are often excruciatingly painful and can feel tender to the touch. Left long enough, they risk becoming infected.
Once an ingrown toenail develops, it won’t resolve on its own. Our podiatrists fix ingrown toenails with a quick in-office procedure and prescribe antibiotics if your toenail is infected.
How to cut your nails to prevent ingrown toenails
In many cases, you can present your ingrown toenails with measures like protecting your feet with covered footwear, wearing clean socks and shoes that fit well, and keeping your feet dry and clean. Additionally, by trimming your toenails correctly, you make it easier for them to grow properly outside of your foot.
Follow these tips from our podiatrists to keep your toenails neatly trimmed.
Use a tool made for clipping nails
Before you start trimming your toenails, buy a tool that is designed to trim toenails correctly. You can use a pair of nail clippers or manicured nail scissors.
Avoid using scissors not designed for trimming nails or knives to cut your nails.
Cut your toenails at the best intervals
Ideally, you should cut your toenails every 6-8 weeks. If you’re an athlete or live a very active lifestyle, you might want to cut them slightly more often for comfort.
Trim your nails when they’re dry
It is usually better to give toenails a trim while they’re dry, as they’re less likely to tear or bend. The exception is if you have unusually thick toenails, which will be easier to cut after showering or soaking your feet.
Make sure your toenails are cut to the correct length
Toenails that are cut too short are more likely to become ingrown as they regrow. Aim to train your nails so they’re 1-2 millimeters long.
Clip the nail in a straight line
When you trim your toenails, it’s as important to clip them in the correct shape along with the correct length. The best way to avoid ingrown toenails is to clip your toenails in a straight line across your toe.
Begin this trim by creating a straight edge just off the side of your toe. Then, create a straight line across your toe by trimming the rest of it.
Finish by filing your nail
After you finish the trim, complete your nail trimming by filing your nails with an emery board. This makes your nails smooth so they won’t get caught on anything and rip.
If your ingrown toenails are causing you problems, our team can help you trim your toenails well and offer other solutions to end the problem. To find out more, schedule an appointment at Arizona Foot Health.