Know the Risk Factors: Prevent Ingrown Toenails

If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail—and a good portion of you have, at least once—you know how aggravating they can be. But did you know that, by following a couple of simple guidelines, many ingrown toenails can be prevented before they even occur? It’s true, and here’s what they are:


Be smart about shoes. Everyone wants to look fashionable—and it’s okay to wear somewhat impractical shoes every once in a while—but shoes that are too cramped or don’t offer adequate support often cause (or at least contribute to) foot problems for those who wear them too frequently.

When it comes to ingrown toenail prevention, the best thing you can do is stick to shoes that offer plenty of “wiggle room” for your toes. Footwear (and even socks) that are too tight can apply enough pressure on the toenails to alter their trajectory and cause them to grow into the soft, surrounding flesh.

Practice good toenail trimming techniques. It may not be obvious, but how you trim can influence how likely you are to develop ingrown toenails. Many people were taught to clip their nails short and round the corners, but this is pretty much the opposite of what you should be doing. Instead, cut straight across, leaving a little bit of length on the nail (especially the corners). You should still be able to see a bit of white nail plate at the tip.

Bonus tip: if you trim right after a bath or shower, your nails will be softer and more pliable, which in turn makes them easier to trim without splitting.

Now, it’s important to understand that, no matter how careful you are about shoes and trimming, no prevention strategy is guaranteed to work with 100% success. Unfortunately, some people are simply more naturally predisposed to ingrown toenails (particularly those with especially flat or curved nails), and there are other potential causes that may be more difficult to control (such as an injury or other trauma). However, for many with chronic ingrown toenail problems, the above tips can make a real difference.

Of course, if you do develop an ingrown toenail anyway, the best thing you can do is see Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute. Our simple in-office procedure will remove the ingrown portion of the nail and bring you fast relief. To schedule an appointment, please contact us online or give us a call at 512-593-2949.

Posted on February 24, 2016 .