3 Strategies for Clipping Your Toenails to Avoid an Ingrown Toenail

Mar 01, 2024
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Trimming your toenails properly can free your feet from ingrown toenails discomfort. Here are expert tips and techniques to maintain your foot health.

Ingrown toenails are a common and sometimes painful condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age or lifestyle. Dr. Eric Gilbertson, DPM, FACFAS, a double board-certified podiatrist at Renew Foot & Ankle, LLC, in Grand Rapids and Bigfork, Minnesota, frequently encounters patients with ingrown toenails, and in many cases, these issues stem from how they clip their toenails. 

Adopting the right strategies for toenail trimming can significantly reduce your risk of developing this uncomfortable condition. Here are three essential toenail-trimming strategies to keep in mind.

1. Use the right tools

A common toenail trimming mistake is using fingernail clippers for your toenails. Toenail clippers are designed to handle the thicker nails on your toes, so invest in a good pair. Look for sharp clippers with a slight curve to match the natural shape of your toenails. Dull clippers can tear the nail, leading to uneven edges that increase the risk of an ingrown toenail.

Additionally, consider having a nail file handy. After clipping, you might find some sharp edges or corners. Gently filing these areas can ensure a smooth finish, reducing the chances of the nail growing into the surrounding skin.

2. Clip toenails correctly

The technique used in clipping your toenails is critical in preventing ingrown toenails. You want to cut your nails straight across and avoid rounding the corners too much, as this can encourage the nail to grow into the skin, particularly on the sides of the toenail.

Avoid cutting the nails too short. Doing so increases the pressure on the toes from shoes and can encourage the skin to fold over the nail, leading to an ingrown toenail. Ideally, you should leave a little bit of the white part of the nail – that’s the right length. 

Remember, the aim is to maintain the natural shape of your nail while ensuring it's not too long or too short. 

3. Maintain regular nail care

Consistency in nail care is key to avoiding ingrown toenails. Regularly inspecting and trimming your nails prevents them from becoming too long and curving into the skin. How often you need to trim your toenails can vary depending on how quickly your nails grow, but generally, every four to six weeks is a good rule of thumb.

Apart from trimming, overall foot hygiene is also crucial. Washing your feet regularly and keeping them dry helps prevent infections, which can exacerbate issues like ingrown toenails. If you have conditions such as diabetes or poor circulation, it’s even more important to maintain good foot hygiene and regular foot examinations by yourself or Dr. Gilbertson.

Schedule an appointment for ingrown toenails

If you're experiencing persistent issues with ingrown toenails, it's important to consult with Dr. Gilbertson. Sometimes, what seems like a minor issue can indicate a more significant underlying problem. Call the office or schedule an appointment online to determine the best course of action for treatment.