Here's How To Clip Your Nails to Prevent an Ingrown Toenail

Jan 03, 2024
Clipping your toenails improperly makes you prone to developing ingrown toenails. Learn how to trim them the right way here and what to do if you develop this painful condition.

Clipping your toenails is a routine part of personal hygiene, but many people don't pay attention to the process. While it might seem foolproof, there's a right and wrong way to clip your nails. Doing it incorrectly could cause you to develop ingrown nails. 

You get an ingrown toenail when your toenail grows into your skin instead of over your nail bed. In mild cases, it can cause some discomfort; however, if it's not managed correctly, an ingrown toenail can lead to serious complications.

At South Texas Foot Surgeons, PA, in San Antonio and Kerrville, Texas, our skilled team understands that ingrown nails can be incredibly uncomfortable. Here, we explain the right way to clip your nails to prevent ingrown toenails. Should you already have an ingrown toenail, we also help you understand when the problem requires expert care.

What are ingrown toenails, and why do they develop?

Your toenail should grow over your nail bed. If the edge of the nail grows into the skin surrounding your nail, it becomes “ingrown.” An ingrown nail can cause pain, redness, and swelling; in severe cases, it can lead to infection. 

There are many reasons you may develop an ingrown toenail. One of the most common is cutting your nails improperly. Other reasons include wearing overly tight or poorly fitting shoes, having naturally curved toenails, and sustaining a toe injury.

How should you clip your toenails?

One of the most effective ways to prevent ingrown toenails is learning how to clip your nails properly. For starters, you should also use a clean, sharp pair of nail clippers or scissors made explicitly for clipping nails.


The best time to trim your nails is after you've had a bath or shower. Clipping them when you’re right out of the shower, when they're softer, makes your nails less likely to split.


Cut your toenails straight across and avoid rounding them at the corners. This technique helps your nails grow outward and prevents them from growing into the skin. After trimming, use a nail file to gently round off any sharp edges that may snag on your socks.


Ideally, your nails should extend just to, but not past, the tip of your toes. No matter what, avoid cutting your nails too short, as short toenails are more likely to grow in your skin.

How to care for your feet

In addition to learning the proper technique to clip your nails, it's crucial to have a consistent foot care routine to help prevent ingrown toenails. 

Pay attention to your feet and clean them properly each time you shower. When you do this, bacteria can't build up. Keeping your feet well moisturized is also essential to reduce the risk of your nails growing into dry, cracked skin. 

Proper footwear 

The type of shoes you wear can significantly affect your foot health. If your shoes are too tight, particularly around your toes, it can trigger ingrown toenails to develop. Instead, choose shoes with a wide toe box and proper arch support. If you're unsure about proper shoe fit, consult our team to determine what type of shoes can give you the best support. 

When should you get help for your ingrown toenail?

It's common to experience a little pain or discomfort when you have an ingrown toenail. However, if the pain is chronic and persistent, or if your toe is red or pus is seeping out, it may be infected. 

An infected ingrown toenail needs professional care, which we offer at South Texas Foot Surgeons, PA. Our team treats the infection and restores a healthy nail by lifting it, taping it, placing a splinter under it, or partially removing it. 

While the strategies we’ve provided can go a long way in helping you maintain healthy feet and lower your chances of developing an ingrown toenail, you may still get one, despite your best efforts. If you’re dealing with this painful condition, we can help.

Call your nearest office in San Antonio or Kerrville, Texas, today, or click online to schedule an appointment with us any time.