Why Do I Keep Getting Ingrown Toenails?

Aug 12, 2019

Ever seen the film Groundhog Day?

Here’s the basic premise: A TV weatherman (played by Bill Murray), is caught in a time loop and is forced to repeat February 2 over and over again. No matter what he does during the day, the loop always resets.

Well, if you’re struggling with ingrown toenails that just keep coming back, you might feel a little bit like Bill Murray yourself. No matter what you do, these painful and unsightly irritations just keep coming back.

What gives? And how do you break the cycle?

There are actually a few different possibilities for why you keep getting ingrown toenails—and fortunately, there is a way out.

We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s talk about some of the reasons you may be caught in this loop.

Boldry - Reoccurring Ingrown Toenails

You’re Wearing the Wrong Shoes

Did you know that several studies have indicated most people—as in, more than half—regularly wear shoes that are the wrong size for their feet?

If you’re one of them, your odds of developing an ingrown toenail are certainly higher than they would otherwise be.

Shoes that are too tight tend to pinch and constrict your toes and can impede the forward growth of your nails, causing them to grow down into the surrounding skin. It could be that you bought the wrong length or width, but it could also be that the style of the shoe itself may not be a good fit for your feet (for example, if it has a narrow or pointed toe box).

Shoes that are too big aren’t much better. That’s because they tend to slide around on your feet, causing the nails to slam into the front of the shoe over and over again.

You Aren’t Cutting Your Nails Correctly

Now, you might be thinking, “How hard could it possibly be to cut your own toenails correctly?”

And the truth is that it isn’t difficult. However, if you haven’t been taught the correct way to trim toenails, you might be accidentally enabling the development of ingrown nails.

There are three main mistakes people make when it comes to toenail trimming:

  • Letting them grow too long. Long toenails are more susceptible to getting pressed inward or curving downward.
  • Cutting them too short. On the other hand, nails that are too short are more likely to snag into the surrounding skin as they grow out.
  • Curving the corners too much. You shouldn’t cut back the corners on your toenails like you would with fingernails.

Instead, your goal should be to leave your toenails about even with the tip of the toe, cutting in a relatively straight manner from corner to corner. File them gently if you wish.

We’d also recommend you use a dedicated toenail clipper with longer, wider arms—you get more leverage for a cleaner cut. Toenails should be trimmed while they’re dry to reduce the risk of tearing as well.

You Just Have Curvy Nails

This is perhaps the most frustrating possibility. But if you keep getting ingrown toenails over and over again, it’s sadly the most likely explanation.

Unfortunately, it may just be the case that you’re naturally prone to getting ingrown toenails. Even if you trim properly and wear good shoes, excessively curved nails may continue to find the soft surrounding flesh again and again.

But take heart! Even this most frustrating of scenarios has a simple, effective solution.

Man trimming toenails with nail clippers

How Do I Break the Cycle?

Simple: schedule an appointment at any office location of the Comprehensive Foot Centers.

Any individual instance of an ingrown toenail can typically be relieved quickly and easily in a single, quick appointment. We’ll numb the toe, gently cut out the ingrown part of the nail, and bandage you up. Then you’re good to go—and we promise you’ll feel a lot better almost immediately.

But here’s the beautiful thing:

At the same appointment, we can also perform another quick procedure called a matrixectomy. Instead of just removing the ingrown edge or corner of the nail itself, we also remove the tiny slice of the nail bed responsible for growing new nail tissue along that edge.

The recovery time is a touch longer for this procedure, but you should still be able to return to most of your regular activities the next day. And the amazing thing is, your odds of getting another ingrown toenail later—at least along that edge of the toe—will be almost nil.

Do you need help breaking the unending cycle of ingrown toenails? If so, give Comprehensive Foot Centers a call today at (816) 455-1155, or request an appointment online. We have three offices each in Missouri and Kansas to serve patients throughout the Kansas City area.