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Top Tips for Clipping Your Toenails to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail

Apr 02, 2024
Ingrown toenails — which occur when the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin — can make every step a real pain. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent ingrown toenails, starting with knowing the proper way to clip your nails.

At Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, in Dallas, Garland, and Richardson, Texas, our expert team understands the importance of healthy feet and ankles. We’re happy to provide a few tips about proper clipping techniques — including how to keep your toenails healthy and avoid the dreaded ingrown toenail. Here’s what you should know. 

1. Trim your toenails straight across

Trimming your toenails straight across is one of the most essential tips for preventing ingrown toenails. Avoid rounding the corners or cutting them too short. Trimming straight across helps prevent the nail edge from digging into the surrounding skin as it grows.

2. Use the right nail-trimming tools

Invest in a good pair of clippers designed explicitly for trimming toenails. These clippers are typically larger and sturdier than fingernail clippers, making them easier to use on thicker toenails. Avoid using scissors or other sharp tools that cause uneven cuts or jagged edges.

3. Soften your toenails before you trim them

Soak your feet in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes before trimming your toenails. This helps soften the nails, making them easier to cut and less likely to splinter or break unevenly. Alternatively, you can also make it a habit to trim your toenails after you take a shower. 

4. Mind the length of your toenails

Don't let your toenails get too long before trimming them. Long nails are more likely to become ingrown, especially when wearing tight shoes. Aim to trim your nails regularly — once a week is ideal for most people — keeping them at a moderate length.

5. Avoid cutting your nails too close

When trimming your toenails, leave a small margin of white at the end of the nail. Cutting too close to the skin increases the likelihood that your nail will grow into your skin tissue.

6. File the edges of your toenails

After trimming your nails, use a nail file to smooth any rough edges or jagged corners. This makes it less likely that your nails will catch on your socks or shoes, reducing the risk of torn toenails as well as ingrown nails.

7. Don’t forget to check your shoes

Choose shoes that fit well and provide plenty of room for your toes to move comfortably. Tight, narrow shoes can compress the toes, increasing the likelihood of ingrown nails. Select shoes with a wide toe box, and avoid high heels or pointy-toed styles as much as possible.

8. Practice good foot hygiene

Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent fungal infections that might contribute to ingrown toenails. Dry your feet thoroughly after showering or bathing, especially between the toes, and wear clean socks made of breathable materials.

Wear flip-flops or bath shoes to prevent contact with flooring in public locker rooms and pool areas. This helps prevent contact and possible infections with wart viruses and other microorganisms.

9. Seek professional help when you need it

Schedule a visit for routine care if you're prone to ingrown toenails or have difficulty trimming your nails due to underlying medical conditions like diabetes or poor circulation.

Our Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP podiatrists can expertly trim your toenails and provide additional treatments to reduce your ingrown toenail risk. Give us a call today, or click online to schedule a visit at your nearest office in Dallas, Garland, or Richardson, Texas, anytime.