In his seminal work The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell breaks down an array of social phenomena. As the subtitle indicates, Gladwell shows that it often only takes a minor effort or incident to lead to a major shift or turning point in society. In a similar manner, toenail trimming might seem like a minor concern, but this little act can lead to big pain and even risk of infection from an ingrown nail!

There are, of course, other ways to develop an ingrown toenail—like physical trauma or wearing shoes that are too small and crowd the toes—but a fairly common cause is improper nail trimming procedures. Beyond ingrown toenails, knowing how to correctly trim toenails can help prevent other conditions, like black toenails that are rather common for runners.

With that in mind, here is the best practice when it comes to clipping toenails properly:

  1. Wash and dry your, or a child’s, feet thoroughly before clipping. This practice makes it safer to cut the nails, since they will be less brittle than they otherwise would be.
  2. Use a proper tool that is designed for the job, like manicure scissors or nail clippers. It is dangerous to use other tools, like knives, regular scissors, and razor blades. With regard to nail clippers, straight-edged ones are best for the toenails.
  3. Trim each nail straight across. Cutting the sides at an angle or rounding them off opens the door for a nail to become ingrown.
  4. Cut them the proper length, which is even with the edge of the front of the toe. Nails that are too short can potentially grow into the skin if they curl downward.

We hope that having a better understanding of how to correctly trim toenails will enable you to prevent developing a potentially painful condition. Of course, you still might accidentally drop something heavy on your foot or perhaps you have an inherited nail structure that makes ingrown nails more likely. When this is the case, Foot and Ankle Wellness Clinic can help.

We offer first-class treatment and care for ingrown nails, so contact either of our California locations by calling (323) 937-6903to reach our LA office or (818) 240-7673 to reach our Glendale office.