Tips for Clipping Your Nails to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail

Tips for Clipping Your Nails to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenails are a common complaint, often causing discomfort when walking or putting on shoes. In most cases, they aren't a severe issue unless they become infected.

The good news is that you can prevent ingrown toenails from occurring or recurring simply by understanding how to cut your nails correctly. Trimming and maintaining your nails properly avoids painful nail issues and a trip to the office.

Dr. Jeffrey E. McAlister and the Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute team are experts in all issues affecting feet and ankles. Dr. McAlister is an experienced, board-certified foot and ankle specialist who provides cutting-edge treatments for painful ingrown toenails.

The facts about ingrown toenails

An ingrown toenail is a common issue among men and women and happens when one side of the nail buries itself in the skin beside it. The nail begins to grow downward instead of straight, disrupting the skin and leaving it vulnerable to infection.

Ingrown toenails typically occur on the big toe but can affect any of the toes on your feet. Without treatment, the ingrown nail continues to dig into the skin, causing discomfort and the risk of infection.

Improperly trimming your nails is the most prevalent cause of an ingrown toenail, but it's not the only one. Other common causes of an ingrown nail include:

The good news is you can treat most ingrown toenails at home with self-care and proper trimming techniques. However, suppose the skin around the ingrown nail becomes infected. In that case, it's essential to seek treatment from Dr. McAlister to prevent further complications.

What are the signs of an ingrown nail?

An ingrown toenail varies in severity from mild to severely infected. Knowing the signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail help you determine the best care route for your needs.

Initially, you may feel some discomfort as the nail buries into the skin – but that's not the only symptom you may have. Other prevalent symptoms that go hand-in-hand with ingrown toenails are:

Not all ingrown toenails become infected, but the nail piercing the skin creates the perfect environment for bacteria to enter. As soon as you notice an ingrown toenail, it’s essential to take the proper steps to alleviate the symptoms and prevent an infection.

Tips for cutting the nails properly

One of the best ways to prevent an ingrown toenail from recurring is to cut the nail properly. It's easy to get careless with trimming your nails, cutting them too short and at an angle, which can lead to an ingrown nail.

Dr. McAlister offers his patient expert tips on properly cutting your nails to keep them healthy and prevent them from growing into the skin. Tips for trimming your nails properly include the following:

Cut the nail straight across

Curving your toenails to go with the shape of the toe is an absolute no-no when it comes to ingrown nails. Cutting the nails at a curve encourages them to grow downward into your skin.

Instead, cut or trim the nails straight across, which allows you to get a fingernail under the front of the nail and on either side.

Don't cut the nail too short

Another key tip for preventing an ingrown nail is keeping your toenails at a moderate length. When you cut the nails too short, the skin around the nail begins to curl in, allowing the nail to grow down instead of straight across.

Avoid ripping the nails

Some people tend to rip or tear their nails instead of using clippers, but that's not a good idea. Ripping the nails causes them to become jagged, and they often round the nail, which encourages an ingrown situation.

Always use clean nail clippers to cut the nails and keep your toes healthy.

Don't do bathroom surgery

Bathroom "surgery" is an absolute no-no for ingrown toenails. It's often tempting to relieve discomfort by trimming the nail and cutting it out of the skin, but that usually does more harm than good.

If you're not getting relief from home care measures, or if your skin appears to be infected, contact our team to make an appointment with Dr. McAlister. He can evaluate the skin and nails to determine the best treatment route.

Dr. McAlister uses careful techniques to cut out the ingrown portion of the nail to prevent it from recurring. He may also prescribe antibiotics if you have an infection.

Call Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation, or use our online booking tool to request an appointment for an ingrown toenail.

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