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

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

Do you suffer from recurring ingrown toenails? This podiatry condition is painful and exposes your toes to potential infection. You might be surprised to learn how much preventing ingrown toenails comes down to clipping your nails correctly.

Could the way you trim your nails be setting you up for repeat cases of ingrown toenails? With these expert tips from Dr. Stephen G. Eichelsdorfer and our podiatry specialists at Town Center Foot & Ankle of Kingwood, Texas, you can make sure you’re not using the wrong technique for toenail clipping.

Use the right tools for the job

You can cut toenails with nail clippers, nail scissors, or a nail file. You should use tools meant for cutting toenails, rather than regular scissors. And it’s a good idea to use different clippers for your fingernails and toenails to prevent spreading fungus and bacteria.

Use a toenail-sized clipper that lets you address most, if not all, of your nail. You may also need to make sure your clipper is still sharp, especially if you have particularly tough or thick nails. You should also clean your nail-cutting tools after each use.

Determine whether you should wash before or after you clip

Should you clip your toenails before or after your bath or shower? It depends on how thick and tough your nails are to cut. Brittle nails might chip during clipping, leaving sharp edges that could develop into ingrown toenails later.

If you have less tough toenails, we suggest trimming before washing up. When your nails are dry, you can make a cleaner cut, avoiding bending or tearing during trimming.

But if you have very thick toenails that are hard to cut when dry, clip your toenails after your bath or shower. That way, your feet will be as clean as possible, with harmful bacteria washed away. And after soaking in warm water, your nails soften, so you can clip with less force and more accuracy.

Cut straight across

The key to preventing ingrown toenails is to always clip nails straight across. Ingrown toenails start with sharp edges of recently trimmed nails, which then start to grow inward into the skin at the edge of your nail bed. 

When you trim your nails straight across, you lower the risk of sharp edges starting to dig painfully back into skin.

Don’t round your nail edges or try to cut your nails into a pointed shape. Instead, use two cuts to create a single, straight line at the top of your nail. 

Start with the clippers off to the side of the nail, clip straight, then move the clippers to follow the line for the rest of the nail. Leave your nails long enough that the corners can rest loosely against the skin of your nail bed on either side.

File away sharp edges

Anytime sharp edges of your nails start to break into the skin surrounding them, you’re at risk for infection. Finish your toenail care routine with filing, using an emery board or nail file to create a smooth edge that won’t create painful podiatry problems.

For personalized support with ingrown toenail issues, contact our team at Town Center Foot & Ankle in Kingwood, Texas, today.

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