Podiatrist Toronto, ON Sheldon H. Nadal D.P.M.
586 Eglinton Avenue E. Suite 501 Toronto, Ontario M4P1P2
Local: 416-486-9917 Toll free: (877) 456-3338

Why You Should not Cut Your Ingrown Toenails

Why You Should not Cut Your Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are relatively common in both men and women. Although most people may have experienced ingrown toenails, few know it is a diagnosable condition that should be treated the right way. For most people, cutting ingrown toenails is a matter of routine, but should you cut ingrown toenails? Before answering this question, here are the basics first.

What are Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails develop when the corners or edges of your nails grow into the adjacent skin. The big toe is most prone to ingrown toenails, although other toes, especially the second toe, can also form ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenails occur as the toenails grow and can get worse if left untreated. If you have diabetes, heart disease, or any circulation or nerve problem, ingrown nails can pose a significant threat, as they can get infected if the nail pierces the skin.

What Causes Ingrown Nails?

Scientists do not know what exactly causes ingrown toenails. However, they suspect that genetics play a part in why some people get ingrown toenails while others do not. Besides genetic reasons, there are risk factors that can increase the chances of getting ingrown toenails. For example, people with sweaty feet and older people seem to be at a higher risk than others.

Other risk factors that can cause ingrown toenails are:

  • Incorrectly cutting toenails (angling the sides into the corners instead of cutting them straight across)
  • Curved, irregular toenails
  • Tight footwear or socks that apply pressure to the toes
  • Injured toenails
  • Poor posture and gait
  • Inappropriate foot hygiene
  • Overuse during athletic activities like soccer, ballet, and kickboxing

Ingrown Nail Symptoms

Ingrown nail symptoms fall under two categories: pre-infection and infected.


  • Tender, swollen, or stiff skin next to the ingrown nail
  • Pain when applying pressure to the toe
  • Fluid buildup around the toenail


  • Throbbing pain
  • Bleeding
  • Swollen skin
  • Red color
  • Oozing pus
  • Skin growth around the toenail

Make sure to treat your ingrown toenail before it becomes infected, as it may require more complicated treatment methods once infected.

Should You Cut Ingrown Nails?

Now to the main question: should you cut ingrown toenails? A common approach to ingrown toenails is to “dig them out.” Podiatrists caution against this. When cutting out your ingrown toenail, you might lacerate the skin, making it easy for an infection to set in. Although it may seem easy to dig it out, and perhaps you have done it before, you should not.

Here is what you should do.

Soak your feet in warm water and gently push the skin away from the ingrown toenail. Doing this over several days or weeks will help your toenail grow out of the skin, allowing you to cut it without having to dig in. Also, wear more comfortable shoes, which will give the toenail room to grow out of your skin.

When to See a Podiatrist for Ingrown Nails

Although ingrown toenails do not always require a visit to the foot specialist, you should see your podiatrist in the following circumstances:

  • Home remedies do not work after a few weeks, and you are still in pain
  • The ingrown toenail has become infected
  • You have diabetes, heart disease, or any other neural or vascular condition

In such cases, your foot specialist will recommend minor surgery to remove the part of your toenail digging into your skin. They may also recommend a total nail removal if you have recurring severe ingrown toenails or if you have significantly thickened toenails.

In summary, if you have ingrown toenails, the last thing you want to do is cut them out, as this can complicate a simple condition that is easily treated with home remedies.

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