Here's How to Clip Your Toenails to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Here's How to Clip Your Toenails to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Have you ever had an ingrown toenail? If you have, you know it isn’t fun. Mild ingrown nails can be treated easily, but once they become infected, a professional will need to step in.

But how can you cut your toenails in a way that prevents ingrown toenails before they start?

Foot + Ankle Specialty Centers offers five locations in the Phoenix, Arizona, area where you can get help for issues like ingrown toenails. But our providers, including Payam Sarraf, DPMKate Kennedy, DPMKaty Statler, DPMAndrew Goodeill, DPMChristopher Van Damme, DPMAmelia Harris, DPM, and Sina Safar, DPM, want to offer you the best preventative care. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide for trimming your toenails the right way. 

The lowdown on ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are often caused by cutting your toenails the wrong way. But that isn’t the only way to cause an ingrown toenail. 

Ill-fitting shoes are one of the easiest ways to create this problem. When your shoes are too tight, they can put pressure on your toe, causing the nail to begin growing into the skin. Certain foot problems — such as hammertoe or bunions — can also see problems with ingrown toenails. In addition, the issue could be caused by trauma to the toes, especially the kind that occurs from stubbing them consistently.

Finally, poor circulation is an issue that often leads to serious ingrown toenail problems. If you have diabetes, your immunity levels may not be high enough to stave off infection. 

Trimming to avoid ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are incredibly common and can be dealt with easily if they aren’t too severe. But the best thing to do is to avoid the issue altogether by wearing properly fitting shoes and trimming your nails the right way. 

1. Don’t cut too short 

If you cut your toenails too short, you can experience problems with the skin growing over the space where the toenails need to be. That can cause ingrown toenails in the future. Make sure you’re never cutting your toenails shorter than they need to be. 

2. Cut your toenails straight across.

Cutting in a rounded or pointed shape can cause significant problems later on. Your toenail is meant to grow in a specific shape — straight across — and changing this can cause skin to grow where it shouldn’t. has a fantastic diagram showing what your toenails should look like after clipping them. 

3. Cut after your shower.

When you cut your toenails at a time when they are dry, there’s a potential they might crack or break. If you cut them when they’re soft, like after a shower or bath, you’ll be able to cut them more easily and safely.

4. Use the proper tools. 

Never use your fingers or another improper tool to cut your toenails! Make sure to use clippers, toenails scissors (not regular scissors), and nail files to get the desired result. If you pick at your toenails, they could splinter, break, or become too short. 

5. Trim toenails with consistency.

You don’t want to trim your toenails too often, but you also don’t want to leave them untrimmed for too long. A general rule is to cut them about every six weeks. If they’re starting to feel like they’re getting too long, consider cutting them sooner. People with active lifestyles may need to cut more often.

Worried about ingrown toenails?

Let us take a look! We’re available at our five Arizona locations to help you find the best treatments for your feet and ankles. Just call to make an appointment today! 

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