How To Trim Your Toenails (And Why The Method Matters)

If you’ve ever been to a salon for a pedicure, your manicurist likely asked you if you wanted your toenails curved or straight. Your answer was probably based on aesthetics. However, according to Columbia, TN-based foot and ankle doctor Dr. Danielle Malin, there really is no question: toenails should be trimmed straight!

According to Dr. Malin, trimming toenails any other way can result in a painful toenail. The foot and ankle doctor notes that toenails typically grow forward in a straight path. Ideally, they are trimmed before they get past the edge of your toe. Trimming them the wrong way can damage the nail and cause it to grow down into the skin. At first, an ingrown toenail may cause nothing but a bit of irritation and red skin. Eventually, however, the swelling can result in the toe being extremely tender.

Left unchecked, a simple ingrown toenail may become infected.

Dr. Malin notes that ingrown toenails are not only the result of improper trimming. While this is the top cause, the foot and ankle doctor says that ingrown toenails can be hereditary or the result of a traumatic injury, such as dropping something heavy on your foot. Running, dancing, ballet, and other physical activities that cause repeated use of the toes can also cause ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenails often respond well to at-home treatment. This might include soaking in warm soapy water, packing the area with cotton, wearing different socks and shoes, and taking an over-the-counter pain medication, like acetaminophen, or an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen. Unfortunately, a foot and ankle doctor may need to be called in if you have extenuating circumstances, such as diabetes, or if home treatments haven’t helped.

For patients that continue to have problematic ingrown toenails, an in office procedure to remove the infected nail portion may be recommended. Dr. Malin does offer the option to have the procedure performed with a chemical treatment in hopes of preventing the ingrown toenail from returning. 

Ultimately, Dr. Malin recommends treating your feet right to reduce the chances of experiencing this painful condition. By prioritizing proper foot hygiene, which the foot and ankle doctor says starts with trimming the correct way, your feet will be healthier, and you are less likely to have to make a trip to the podiatrist’s office.

Feel free to call Premier Foot & Ankle Care to schedule an appointment if you have an ingrown toenail that’s simply not getting better with time. Dr. Danielle Malin is a five-star, patient-rated foot and ankle doctor that’s not only board-certified but is also a staff physician at Maury Regional Medical Center.


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