How Can I Stop My Ingrown Toenail from Coming Back?

Jun 17, 2021

Many people will deal with an ingrown toenail at least once or twice in their lifetimes. It is a very common condition that can have a variety of different causes and triggers. However, if you are getting ingrown toenails frequently, it is likely that a larger underlying problem is at work.

Few things are more frustrating or painful than an ingrown toenail that comes back again and again, but the good news is, with the right tactics, this condition can be successfully prevented.

Finding the best and most successful solution for you will depend on the underlying factors of your specific circumstances. If home-based treatments are not effective, we can provide a permanent surgical fix with an extremely low recurrence rate.

A woman sitting with high heel shoes got swollen toe common foot problem in women the pain on toe because of ingrown toenails  caused the skin around the nail to become red or infected

Ingrown Toenail Prevention at Home

If your ingrown toenails are primarily caused by external pressures acting upon the toenail, then you may be able to stop them from occurring by modifying those conditions.

Consider the following:

Better Toenail Trimming Habits

Most people learn how to trim their toenails at a very early age, and never give it a second thought. But you may be making some inadvertent mistakes that increase your risk of developing ingrown toenails down the line. Some tips:

  • Do not cut the nails too short or let them grow too long. The front edge of the nail should be a little shorter than the tip of your toe. Cutting your nails about once every six weeks is fine for most people, although you may wish to cut more frequently if you are active or if your toenails grow faster than average.
  • Do not round the corners. Toenails should be cut relatively straight across. “Diving in” at the corners may create more opportunity for the edge of the nail to become ingrown.
  • Use a toenail clipper. Since toenails tend to be thicker than fingernails, it is helpful to get a set of toenail clippers with enough leverage to make an easy, clean cut. Toenail clippers also have a much less rounded clipping edge.

Cut your nails when they are dry. They will be less likely to tear or bend.


Wear Sensible Footwear

Avoid shoes that are too small or shoes that have a tight or narrow toe box that puts pressure on the nails, pushing the edges of the nails into the surrounding skin. Open-toed shoes, or shoes with lots of wiggle room for the toes, are usually best.

Shoes that are too big can also be a problem, especially if they tend to slide around on your feet. During activity, this can cause the tips of the toes to jam up against the front of the shoe.

Shoes that are the right size should feel snug but not tight around the heel and balls of the feet and should not slide around. There should be about a half inch of space, when standing, between the front of the shoe and the longest toe.

If you will be in an environment that puts your foot at risk of accidents or injuries, such as a job site, make sure your feet are protected with appropriate closed-toed shoes.

Permanent Correction and Prevention of Ingrown Toenails

In some cases, even diligent home care will not prevent you from getting an ingrown toenail. Quite often this is because the shape of your toenails makes them prone to becoming ingrown.

If this is the case for you, we will typically recommend permanently fixing your ingrown toenails via a minor surgical procedure. It is performed under a local anesthetic and is relatively painless; by the time the anesthetic wears off, your symptoms should already be significantly improved.

During the surgery, the shape of the nail is altered by removing the edge of the nail that continues to cause problems, followed by the application of phenol on the exposed portion of the matrix (nail root) to prevent this part of the nail from growing back.

Cosmetic results tend to be very good. The majority of the nail removed is beneath the skin fold, therefore the change in the width of your nail is minimal—leaving a slightly thinner, but normal-looking toenail. And of course, you won’t have to deal with ingrown toenails anymore.

Closeup of a woman cut toenail herself, Foot care treatment and nail, health care concept 

Get Rid of Your Ingrown Toenails for Good

Nobody should have to live with and suffer from recurring ingrown toenails. If at-home preventative care fails to resolve the problem, our surgical solution is quick, convenient, and long-lasting.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bobrowski and the team at InStride Crystal Coast Podiatry in New Bern, please call (252) 638-4700 today. You can also request an appointment online.