Snip, snip, OUCH! We’ve all cut our toenails too short, which can leave us feeling a little bit too exposed and uncomfortable. Cutting your nails too short can also cause ingrown toenails, since the nail that grows back might decide to grow right into the skin. This might seem like a little problem, but the pain can prevent you from doing the most simple of things, like walking and running.

Ingrown ToenailsLet’s Cut to the Chase: What Is This Condition?

The pain you’re experiencing is the edge of the toenail piercing into the skin alongside it. Usually, this problem shows up in the big toe, but it can also happen in the other toes. You won’t only feel it, but you’ll see it too! Skin that surrounds the nail will be red, swollen, and tender. It can also become infected and develop pus, so you should treat the area as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.  

Causes that Put You on the Edge

A variety of reasons cause this problem. If you pick your nails a lot, the corners of the nails are frequently torn or picked away, which puts you at risk for developing ingrown toenails. This can also happen if you round the corners of your nails when you’re cutting them. An injury to the nail bed might make you more susceptible, too.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you did to create the problem. Your nails might just be naturally curved downward or too thick to cut without botching the job. Others have toenails that are too big for their toes. It can also be hard do a good snipping job if you can’t see or reach your nails.

Treatment that will Clip the Problem

First of all, you should see a doctor immediately if you have an ingrown toenail and you’re a diabetic or suffer from circulatory problems. This is simply a precaution to make sure your problem doesn’t turn into something serious and life threatening. We just don’t want to see a small problem turn into an ulcer or bone infection. Many times the doctors will recommend a partial matricectomy, which is a very simple procedure that permanently corrects the ingrown toenail without any discomfort to the patient.

To treat your ingrown toenails at home, start with a warm foot bath. When you’ve soaked for around 10 minutes, take out your foot and massage the affected area. Then, situate a little piece of cotton beneath the edge of the toenail that’s poking into the skin. You can wet the cotton beforehand with an antibiotic ointment. Put a bandage on the toe.  

Early treatment like this will usually get rid of your pain. However, if it gets worse, let Dr. Brian McDowell and Dr. Gavin P. Ripp treat your problem. We can remove the part of the nail that’s giving you trouble in a quick, painless procedure at our nail center.  

Snip and Fit Your Way to Prevention                             

To prevent this from happening, you need to be more cautious about your foot care. The easiest way to do that is to cut your toenails straight across when you’re clipping them. No cutting corners anymore! Also, make sure you keep your feet clean, dry, and fitted into a good pair of shoes. Don’t wear shoes that are too tight for your toes.

If you have nails that are too hard to trim yourself, we can cut them for you at our nail center. Hopefully, we can help you prevent ingrown toenails from ever hindering your lifestyle. Make an appointment with our clinic in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434. We serve the greater Sacramento area, including Roseville and Rocklin. Find McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group on Facebook and Pinterest.

Photo Credit: Hans Braxmeier

Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.


Office at St. George Medical Center
  • 6620 Coyle Avenue, Suite 202
    Carmichael, CA 95608
  • Phone: 916-961-3434
  • Fax: 916-961-0540
  • Toll Free: 888-447-0733
  • Directions


Blog Subscribe to our RSS Feed