How to clip your toenails to prevent an ingrown toenail

by | Aug 2, 2023

Proper toenail care is crucial for maintaining healthy feet and preventing common foot problems such as ingrown toenails. Surprisingly, many individuals are unaware that their nail-clipping techniques can contribute to the development of ingrown toenails. In this article, we will explore the reasons why improper toenail trimming can cause ingrown toenails and provide you with essential tips on how to properly trim your toenails to avoid this painful condition. At McVay Foot & Ankle Podiatry Office, we are committed to promoting foot health and helping you prevent and treat foot ailments.

How Can Improper Toenail Trimming Cause an Ingrown Toenail?


Improper toenail trimming practices can significantly increase the likelihood of developing an ingrown toenail. Let’s explore the common ways in which improper toenail trimming can lead to this painful condition:

1. Using the Wrong Type of Clippers:

One of the most common mistakes people make is using clippers designed for fingernails instead of toenails. Toenail clippers have a wider jaw that can accommodate the thickness of the toenails. Using the wrong type of clippers can result in uneven or incomplete trimming, leaving behind sharp edges that may grow into the surrounding skin, leading to an ingrown toenail.

2. Cutting the Toenail Too Short:

Trimming your toenails too short is another factor that increases the risk of ingrown toenails. When the nails are cut too close to the flesh, it creates an opportunity for the edges to grow into the surrounding skin. To prevent this, avoid cutting your nails too short and leave a small margin of nail beyond the skin edge.

3. Cutting Your Toenails on a Curve:

Cutting your toenails in a curved shape instead of straight across can promote curved nail growth, further increasing the likelihood of the nail digging into the skin. It is crucial to trim your toenails straight across to encourage proper growth and reduce the chances of an ingrown toenail.

clipping ingrown toenail.

How to Properly Trim Toenails to Prevent Ingrown Toenails:


Proper toenail care involves adopting the correct trimming techniques to prevent the occurrence of ingrown toenails. Here are some essential tips to follow when trimming your toenails:

1. Use Clippers Designed for Toenails:

Invest in a pair of toenail clippers specifically designed for thicker toenails. These clippers have a wider jaw and provide better control, allowing you to trim the nails evenly and prevent jagged edges. Using the right tool is the first step towards proper toenail care.

2. Avoid Cutting Your Toenails Too Short:

When trimming your toenails, it is important to avoid cutting them too close to the flesh. Leave a small margin of nail beyond the skin edge to reduce the risk of ingrown toenails. This will provide a buffer zone that helps prevent the nail from growing into the skin.

3. Cut Straight Across the Nail:

To encourage proper nail growth and prevent ingrown toenails, always cut your toenails straight across. Avoid rounding the corners or creating a curved shape, as this can lead to the nail growing into the skin. Use gentle, precise movements to ensure a straight cut.

4. Trim When Dry and Firm:

Toenails are easier to cut when they are dry and firm. Avoid trimming them right after a shower or bath when they are soft and more prone to tearing. Instead, wait until they have dried thoroughly. This will provide better control and help you achieve a clean, even cut.

5. Trim Regularly:

Trim your toenails regularly to maintain their length and prevent them from becoming too long. Aim to trim them every 6 weeks, but adjust the frequency according to your nail growth rate. Regular trimming ensures that your nails don’t become overly long, reducing the chances of them becoming ingrown.

ingrown toenail

If You Have an Ingrown Toenail, McVay Foot & Ankle Podiatry Office Can Help!


Despite your best efforts, sometimes ingrown toenails can still occur. If you experience the discomfort and pain associated with an ingrown toenail, it is important to seek professional care. At McVay Foot & Ankle Podiatry Office, our experienced podiatrists specialize in diagnosing and treating various foot conditions, including ingrown toenails. We provide personalized treatment options to alleviate your pain and promote proper healing.

When you visit our office, our podiatrists will carefully examine your foot, assess the severity of the condition, and determine the most appropriate course of treatment. Treatment options for ingrown toenails may include:

1. Soaking:

Soaking the affected foot in warm water can help reduce pain and swelling. Our podiatrists may suggest soaking your foot in a warm saline solution or an antibacterial solution to cleanse the area and promote healing.

2. Antibiotics:

In cases where the ingrown toenail is infected or at risk of infection, our podiatrists may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to eliminate the infection and prevent further complications.

3. Nail Trimming:

Our podiatrists have the expertise to trim the ingrown toenail properly. They will carefully remove the ingrown portion of the nail while ensuring that the surrounding skin remains intact. This relieves the pressure and discomfort caused by the ingrown toenail.

4. Nail Splinting:

For recurring ingrown toenails, our podiatrists may recommend nail splinting. This involves using a splint or a small device to lift and separate the ingrown portion of the nail from the skin, allowing it to grow properly.

5. Surgical Intervention:

In severe cases or when conservative treatments are not effective, our podiatrists may recommend a minor surgical procedure to remove a portion of the nail or the entire nail. This procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia and offers a long-term solution for chronic ingrown toenails.

In conclusion, proper toenail care plays a significant role in preventing ingrown toenails. By using the right tools, avoiding cutting too short, trimming straight across, and maintaining a regular trimming routine, you can greatly reduce the risk of developing this painful condition. However, if you do experience an ingrown toenail, don’t hesitate to contact McVay Foot & Ankle Podiatry Office for professional assistance. Your feet deserve the best care, so prioritize your foot health and enjoy pain-free, happy feet.

8580 Scarborough Dr., Ste 120
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm

*Office is closed from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM for lunch

P: 719-266-5000
F: 719-266-6596

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