Do you have questions about ingrown toenails? We have answers!

Do you have questions about painful or infected ingrown toenails? Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider of Tanglewood Foot Specialists provides the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about ingrown toenails. If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk to Dr. Schneider about your foot pain, call our Houston podiatry office at (713) 785-7881.

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  • Can I get ingrown nails from a pedicure?

    You can get ingrown toenails from a pedicure. You also can get a fungal infection and even a staph infection. That, however, is not a reason to never get a pedicure. There are unscrupulous nail salon owners and operators who do not sanitize their equipment. They ruin their reputation and also those of pedicurists who do what they should.  

    To ensure you are getting a safe pedicure in Houston, TX, ask how the instruments and equipment are sanitized. Get a recommendation for a pedicurist from a trusted friend. It's important that the pedicurist trims the nails properly; not doing anything that may create an ingrown toenail. Most importantly, the cuticles should not be pushed back like you may be accustomed to when you get a manicure. Doing so increases the risk for infection.


    People with diabetes should take extra caution before getting a pedicure. Notify the pedicurist that you are diabetic (the good ones will ask). They will be less aggressive in their care and can tell you if they see anything that a podiatrist should manage. Of course, your Houston podiatrist is always available after a pedicure if you are concerned that anything is wrong.

  • What are ingrown toenails?

    An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail imbeds itself in the surrounding skin. This leads to the skin around the toenail becoming red, inflamed, painful, and often infected. An infected ingrown toenail makes it painful to wear shoes. It usually does not improve with antibiotics alone. In order for the infection to resolve, the offending nail must be removed from the skin.  

    The knee-jerk reaction that I see from most is the "do-it-yourself" approach. Many of my Houston patients decide that they have a future in "bathroom surgery" and dig out the piece of the nail. This usually causes the ingrown toenail to become worse. The only way to most properly and completely treat an ingrown toenail is to visit your Houston foot doctor.

  • Are ingrown toenails from cutting my nails wrong?

    Ask most about the proper way to trim a toenail and the answer is likely to be "straight across." Following that advice would generally keep you out of trouble. When people cut their toenails, especially if they are feeling pain from a nail starting to grow in, they tend to angle the sides. This is asking for a problem. When a toenail begins to dig in to the toe, it occurs at a deep level where you aren't able to easily reach without causing yourself pain.  

    Most ingrown toenails are not caused from cutting the nails wrong, however.  They are made worse when you try to perform your own ingrown toenail surgery.  The ingrown toenail typically occurs when the toenail is too wide for the nail bed. It's simply the way you were made, nothing you can do to change it.  If you notice a redness, bulging, or pain on the sides of your toenails, your best bet is to visit your Houston podiatrist to have it evaluated and properly treated.

  • Can I get ingrown nails from not cutting my nails often enough?

    There are a lot of people in my Houston podiatry practice who philosophize as to why they get ingrown toenails.  One is not cutting their toenails often enough.  This generally is not a cause for ingrown toenails.  Depending on the shape of the toenail, however, how frequently you trim your toenails can play a role in how comfortable the toenails are.  

    Some people have particularly curved toenails.  When left untrimmed, there is pressure from the top of sides of the shoe that presses the toenail into the skin, causing discomfort, inflammation, and infection.  Others have a toenail that folds over the end of the toe. As the toenail grows, the nail can grow into the end of the toe, again becoming painful and inflamed.  In these cases, keeping the toenail trimmed regularly will be helpful in preventing a toenail from becoming ingrown.


    It is beneficial for everyone to maintain their feet and toenails regularly. Long toenails can catch on shoes and socks, causing them to tear away.  This is a very painful, and often bloody, situation. Trauma of this type can lead to infection, fungus infection, and permanent deformity of the toenail.

  • Is it true toenails should be cut straight across?

    The most common advice people offer on proper toenail trimming is that toenails should be cut straight across. This has been passed down from parents to children and pediatrician to patients for years. In many cases, trimming the toenails in this fashion will prevent problems with the toenail itself. Everyone is different, however, and some require different treatment to stay the most comfortable.  

    As we age, it is natural for the toenails to curve more. This happens because the natural support to the toenail wears away and the toenails folds around the bone beneath it. While this does not happen to everyone, it is very common. In these cases, trimming the toenail straight across will result in sharp corners of the toenail digging into the skin. People whose toenails grow in this fashion would be better served by slightly rounding the corners of the toenail, either when they are being trimmed or using a file to do so afterwards.  This will relieve the pressure on the skin and keep the toes comfortable.


    A word of caution, however. Do not mistake "slightly rounding the corners" to mean "dig out the sides of the toenail."  If the toe is painful, whether before or after you trim the toenail, stop what you are doing and get it properly evaluated and treated by your foot doctor in Houston, TX. I guarantee it will be less painful than doing it yourself!