How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Uncategorized

In the realm of foot troubles, few are as common and bothersome as ingrown toenails. These seemingly minor issues can quickly escalate into painful and potentially serious problems if not properly managed. At Southern California Foot and Ankle Specialists, we recognize the impact that ingrown toenails can have on your daily life, and we’re here to provide you with comprehensive guidance on how to prevent them. In this detailed guide, we will delve into the world of ingrown toenails, exploring their causes, and potential complications, and most importantly, offering practical strategies to keep them at bay. Our aim is to ensure that your feet remain healthy, comfortable, and ready to support you throughout life’s journey.

An injured toe with net bandage

What are Ingrown Toenails

Before we dive into prevention, let’s understand what ingrown toenails are. An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of a toenail, often the big toe, grows into the surrounding skin. This can lead to pain, redness, swelling, and in severe cases, infection. While they may seem trivial, ingrown toenails can significantly impact your daily activities and quality of life.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

To effectively prevent ingrown toenails, it’s crucial to gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors that contribute to their development. By recognizing these key elements, you can take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails and maintain the health of your feet.

Improper Nail Trimming

 The way you trim your nails can significantly impact their growth. Cutting nails too short or rounding them at the edges might seem like routine grooming, but it can have unintended consequences. When nails are trimmed too short, there’s a higher chance that they will dig into the surrounding skin as they grow. To promote healthy nail growth and prevent ingrown toenails, opt for a straight-across cut, allowing the nail to develop properly and minimizing the risk of painful encroachment.

Ill-Fitting Footwear

Your choice of footwear plays a crucial role in foot health. Shoes that are too tight or have a narrow toe box can lead to a host of problems, including ingrown toenails. When your toes are cramped within a limited space, it exerts pressure on the nails. This constant pressure can lead to abnormal nail growth patterns, increasing the chances of them becoming ingrown. To prevent this, prioritize shoes with a roomy toe box that allows your toes to move freely and naturally.


Our feet endure daily activities that can exert pressure on the toes. Engaging in activities that repeatedly press on your toes, such as running or wearing shoes that squeeze your feet, can result in trauma. This trauma not only causes discomfort but also elevates the risk of ingrown toenails. To mitigate this risk, consider the types of activities you engage in and ensure that you’re wearing appropriate footwear that offers sufficient support and space.


The genetic component cannot be overlooked when discussing ingrown toenails. If you have a family history of ingrown toenails, you might have a genetic predisposition to them. This predisposition can arise from the inherited shape and structure of your nails. Being aware of this genetic tendency empowers you to be extra vigilant and proactive in preventing ingrown toenails.

Incorporating this knowledge into your foot care routine can make a substantial difference in preventing ingrown toenails. From practicing proper nail trimming techniques to selecting suitable footwear and being mindful of your genetic background, every step you take can contribute to the health and comfort of your feet. If you have concerns or need guidance on preventing ingrown toenails, our team at Southern California Foot and Ankle Specialists is here to provide expert advice and support.

Treatment of an ingrown nail with a doctor's instrument, removal and disinfection

Ways to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

When it comes to preventing ingrown toenails, adopting a comprehensive approach that encompasses foot hygiene, nail care, and footwear choices can significantly reduce the risk of this uncomfortable condition. Here’s an in-depth look at each strategy:

Choose Footwear with a Roomy Toe Box

 Your choice of footwear has a profound impact on your foot health. Opting for shoes with a spacious toe box provides your toes with the freedom to move naturally. This not only enhances your overall comfort but also reduces pressure on the nails. By minimizing the pressure exerted on your toenails, you can effectively lower the chances of them growing into the surrounding skin and developing into ingrown toenails.

Trim Nails Straight Across

 Nail trimming might seem straightforward, but the technique you use can influence the likelihood of ingrown toenails. Avoid rounding the edges of your nails when trimming them. Instead, adopt the practice of cutting them straight across. This encourages proper nail growth and discourages nails from curving into the skin. By following this method, you create an environment where the nails can grow freely and mitigate the risk of ingrown toenails.\

Protect Your Nails from Trauma 

Engaging in activities that put your feet under repeated stress, such as running or participating in sports, can make your toes vulnerable to trauma. To prevent this trauma from leading to ingrown toenails, consider donning protective footwear. Shoes designed for specific activities can provide an extra layer of defense, shielding your toes from potential impacts and reducing the risk of nail-related problems.

Regular Foot Inspection

Incorporating a daily foot inspection into your routine can be a proactive step towards preventing ingrown toenails. Take the time to examine your feet, paying special attention to your toenails and the surrounding skin. Early detection of any redness, swelling, or discomfort can prompt timely intervention and prevent minor issues from escalating into more significant concerns.

 Maintain Nail Hygiene

 Practicing proper nail hygiene is fundamental for preventing a range of nail-related issues, including ingrown toenails. Keeping your nails clean and dry helps stave off infections and potential complications. Gently cleaning beneath the nails and ensuring they’re thoroughly dry after washing can prevent fungal infections that might exacerbate nail problems.

By embracing these comprehensive strategies, you can take proactive control of your foot health and significantly reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails. Incorporating good foot hygiene, proper nail care techniques, and wise footwear choices into your routine empowers you to maintain the well-being and comfort of your feet. If you’re seeking personalized guidance or have concerns about ingrown toenails, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated team at Southern California Foot and Ankle Specialists. We’re here to support you on your journey to healthy, pain-free feet.

heel pain with shoe off

How We Can Help

At Southern California Foot and Ankle Specialists, we’re dedicated to providing expert care for your foot health. Our team of experienced podiatrists can offer guidance and recommendations tailored to your needs. Whether you’re currently dealing with an ingrown toenail or want to take preventive measures, we’re here to support you. We can assess your individual situation, suggest suitable treatments, and provide personalized advice to maintain the health of your feet.

Contact Us Today

Ingrown toenails need not disrupt your life. Reach out to Southern California Foot and Ankle Specialists today to schedule an appointment. Our compassionate team is ready to provide you with the specialized care you need to prevent ingrown toenails and address any existing concerns. Don’t let foot discomfort hinder your daily activities – take proactive steps toward maintaining the health and well-being of your feet. Your feet deserve the best, and we’re here to ensure just that.