Jan 23, 2019
How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails
Dr Cory Pilling. DPM
If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail before, chance are very high that you would not care to repeat the experience.
Even a mild ingrown toenail can be quite an annoyance. You may be uncomfortably reminded of the swelling, tenderness, and sensitivity every time you put on a shoe, or adjust your sock.
And that’s the mild version. A bad ingrown toenail can be agonizing on an almost constant basis and make daily activities or hobbies basically impossible to perform. That’s especially true if the ingrown toenail becomes infected.
The good news is that treating an ingrown toenail is very easy for a good podiatrist. But even so, you’d still rather prevent it in the first place than have to deal with it after the fact. And this guide may be of some use to you.
Be Careful About How You Trim
Do you know how to cut your toenails?
That might seem like a silly question. After all, you’ve probably been cutting them your entire life, since you were old enough to hold a pair of clippers.
But do you know how to trim the right way? You might be surprised to learn that most people don’t. Most people we talk to, in fact, never knew there was a “right way” to begin with, and had no idea that their technique could increase their risk of ingrown toenails!
Here’s how to do it right:
- Cut your toenails only when they’re dry. Wet nails are more likely to bend or tear.
- Use a pair of toenail clippers. Compared to fingernail clippers, toenail clippers are bigger, wider, and have a flat or nearly flat cutting edge (rather than curved). They’ll make it much easier to cut safely.
- Cut straight across, using a series of small cuts (rather than trying to blast the whole nail in one shot). Don’t round to sharply on the sides and make a curved shape, like you would with your fingernails.
- Don’t cut your nails too short. Better to trim more often and keep them about even with the end of the toe, so they don’t get too short or too long.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Shoes and socks that don’t fit are one of the leading causes of all kinds of foot problems—ingrown toenails very much included.
Footwear that’s too tight, especially in the toe box area, is particularly problematic. If your shoes are pushing down and sideways on your toenails, they will be more likely to become ingrown.
High heels, as you might imagine, are quite often guilty of this. Kids also frequently get ingrown toenails for this reason, since a growth spurt can cause them to outgrow their shoes in a hurry.
That said, you shouldn’t overreact and wear shoes that are too big for you, either. If your shoe is sliding around on your foot, your toenails may slam into the front of the shoe over and over again.
The best solution, as always, is to only wear shoes that fit your feet properly, give your toes space to wiggle, and protect your toes from accidental injury or damage.
Choose Your Salon with Care
Just because someone is paid to cut your nails for you doesn’t mean they’re going to do it properly or safely. Over and over again, we’ve seen patients come in with an ingrown toenail, or even a fungal infection, due to a bad experience at a salon or spa.
Make sure your nail technician is experienced and fully licensed, and the spa itself upholds high standards of cleanliness. A technician that cuts your nails too short or pushing your cuticles back too far during a pedicure could be setting you up for future pain.
Get the Matrixectomy
Okay, this one probably needs a little more explanation.
See, sometimes you can do everything right and still get an ingrown toenail. Sometimes it’s just genetics, unfortunately. You were born with nails that dive and curve just a little more than they should, and because of that inherited quirk you’re doomed to get ingrown toenails again and again.
Or are you?
When you visit our office to get rid of your ingrown toenail, we can also perform an additional, minor surgical procedure that will help you prevent future ingrown toenails—with a success rate that’s very nearly 100 percent.
Instead of just removing your ingrown toenail, we’ll also remove a small portion of the nail matrix, or alter its shape. The matrix is the part of your toe responsible for growing new nail tissue, so without it your ingrown toenail literally can’t come back.
The procedure is quick and downtime is limited. Most people are back to work within a day (or two at the most), and full recovery should take no more than a couple of weeks.
Now, does this procedure alter the shape and appearance of your nail permanently? Yes, a little—your nail will be slightly thinner than before, since a portion along the edge can’t grow back anymore.
But, depending on how much of the nail matrix needs to be removed, most of the nail will remain and what you have will still look quite natural. You can wear your sandals and paint your nails without fear of embarrassment.
And more importantly, you won’t have ingrown toenails anymore.
Call Canyon Foot & Ankle for All Your Toenail Care Needs
We’re here for you and can help you get your feet looking and feeling your best.
We certainly hope that you’re able to prevent ingrown toenails successfully at home, but remember that if you do develop one, we can provide both immediate relief and highly effective long-term prevention solutions for you.
To schedule an appointment with the team, please call the office of your choice:
- Twin Falls: (208) 733-0436
- Burley: (208) 678-2727