Have you ever had an ingrown nail? Mention it to someone who’s had a severe case and you’ll see the pain in the expression of their face.
Nails usually grow straight and outwards but there are times that they don’t. Some grow bending inwards.
Usually, curved or ingrown nails can be seen on toenails. This doesn’t only look weird but they can be very painful too.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to get toenails to grow straight so you don’t have to endure the pain of an ingrown nail.
If you already have curved nails and are looking for a way to correct them, we’ll also talk about that below. But first, let’s focus on the different causes of growing curved toenails so you can avoid them.
What Causes Curved Toenails?
Toenails normally grow straight and outwards. However, they may sometimes grow with a curve.
There are multiple reasons as to why your toenail could curve inwards. The culprit could be any one of the following:
It’s In Your Genes
One of the main reasons why your toenail could grow at a curve is because it is genetic. Your mom or your dad might also have curved toenails.
Try to investigate. Do curved toenails run in your family?
Even if you don’t have them right now, it is worth watching out for. Sometimes, the toenail grows in an inward curve when it reaches a certain length. You need to continuously check your nails.
If your curved nails are genetic, be extra careful with what you do to take care of your nails.
Curved nails could lead to infections.
Having small toes may be genetic and it can cause the toenails to grow inward. When the toes are smaller and the nails are normal or big in size, a nail can grow inward simply because the toe isn’t big enough for the nail.
Another reason why your nails could grow at a curve is trauma. Trauma on the nails could happen when you accidentally hit your toenail, when a heavy item falls on it, or when you do activities that involve kicking.
The impact of the trauma could change the direction of the growth of your nails. That is why curved toenails are common to athletes who use their feet a lot.
Whether you are a soccer player who kicks a ball or a kickboxer who does martial arts, curved nails could be in the cards.
The Way You Trim Your Nails
How do you trim our nails? Did you know that improper cutting or trimming of nails could result in ingrown or curved nails?
When trimming your nails, you should avoid cutting them in a curve and following the shape of your toe. That could look great and maybe okay right after cutting it.
However, when it starts to grow, your nail could start curving inwards and digging in your toe. That’s why it is always best to cut the nails in a straight line and make sure you don’t cut them too short.
Another reason why your nails might grow inwards is that your shoes are too tight. When you wear shoes that are too tight, the shoes can push the nails deeper into the skin. You may feel pain.
When this happens repeatedly, the nail may grow deeper and in an inward curve because of that pressure.
Wear shoes that fit you well, and be sure to regularly check to see if your feet haven’t changed in size.
Improper Nail Hygiene
When your feet are always moist and wet or when they are too dry, either could result in curved nails. That’s why you should wash and hydrate your feet regularly.
While doing that, you should remember to clean and cut your nails regularly to avoid infection, toenail fungus, etc.
How To Get Toenails To Grow Straight
Now that we know the causes, let’s further help you avoid getting curved nails. Here are some things you should do to get your nails to grow straight:
Trim The Toenails Properly
One of the best ways to get your nails to grow straight is to trim them properly. Many people make the mistake of over-trimming. This causes a painful consequence of growing curved nails.
When trimming your nails, how you trim them and how often you do affects the growth of the nail.
Cutting the nails too short so that you won’t have to cut them again for a long time is not a good idea. It could just lead to curved nails.
The best thing you could do is to cut the nails straight across. They shouldn’t be too short. When you cut them too short, the free edge could dig into your toes due to the pressure from your shoes.
Additionally, you should use the proper tools in cutting your nails. Your nail clippers should be sharp and sturdy. If not, they could cause cracks in the nail when you can’t control them properly.
The technique in cutting toenails is also important. Although you are going to cut them straight across, don’t try to cut the entire nail at once.
Do make smaller cuts so the nail doesn’t end up in an improper position. After cutting with clippers, you should use a nail file so that the edge is smooth and won’t dig into your skin.
And don’t forget to disinfect your nail clippers after you’re done.
Wear The Correct Shoe Size
It could be tempting to get that smaller pair of designer shoes that’s on sale because it’s the last one available. But think about the consequences.
Do you really want to risk growing curved nails just because you want to wear cute shoes that are too small for you?
Apart from being uncomfortable when worn, wearing shoes that are smaller than they should be will cause painful ingrown nails that can prevent you from walking comfortably.
Worst of all, the curved nails you get could even lead to infection.
It is not worth the risk.
When choosing shoes to wear, make sure that they feel reasonably roomy and comfortable. Even if they are your size, sometimes they can feel cramped on the toe area. Get a size larger for a more comfortable fit.
Protect Your Toes
Does your work include the risk of dropping something on your toe or slamming your toe somewhere? You better make sure your toes are protected by wearing the appropriate shoes for the job.
Strappy sandals may look sexy but save those for date nights and wear closed-toe shoes to your job!
How To Correct Curved Nails?
If you’ve already got curved nails and missed your chance of preventing them, there’s no need to panic. Here are a few ways to correct them:
This method involves using a toothpick, a cotton ball, and alcohol.
The first thing you do is to get a very small piece of cotton and soak it in a tiny container of alcohol.
When it is completely soaked, use the toothpick and muster enough courage to place the tiny piece of the soaked cotton ball underneath the curved part of the toenail.
Change the soaked cotton with alcohol daily. This will help lift the nail so that it grows without digging into your toe.
The effectiveness of this method will depend on the severity of your curved nail and how fast your toenail grows.
Dental Floss Method
This method is similar to the first one. The main goal here is to lift the nail. Instead of using a soaked cotton ball, it uses a instead.
Dental floss is already sterilized so it is safe to use. In this method, several strands of dental floss are inserted in between the curved nail and the nail bed.
Don’t force the dental floss in. Just place several strands so that the pressure of the nail on the toe is decreased. This helps deal with pain and lifts the nail so it can grow without digging further into the skin.
After a few strands are placed, cut the excess. The ends could be glued in place using medical-grade glue. If phenol is not placed, the nail in there will simply grow back and dig into the toe.
Curve Nail Correctors
There are products sold in the market as curved nail corrector kits that could help with ingrown or curved nails. They involve lifting the toenail at first then putting a brace in place.
There are also some corrector braces that you can attach to the nail by glue. The braces pull the edges of the nail upwards so that it doesn’t curve inward.
To do this, the toenails are first soaked so that they are easier to manipulate. Nails are trimmed afterward — but don’t overdo it!
The next step is to clean the toenails so that all the loose particles are removed. Cleaning helps remove all other contaminants.
After the nail is cleaned, that’s time you can apply the braces. Make sure to select the correct size or to file them to size. This will depend on which kit or product you get.
After the braces are fitted, you can secure them in place using the provided adhesive.
This is just a general overview of how these kits are used. Different kits will have different instructions. Follow the instructions for your specific system.
Partial Nail Removal Or Nail Surgery
With this method, the curved toenail is cut or removed. After it is cut, the toenail is treated with phenol to stop the nail from growing.
After the phenol has been applied using cotton, the cotton used is placed on the remaining toenail so it doesn’t grow inward.
Removing the ingrown or curved nail on your own is quite risky so it shouldn’t be done on your own.
A podiatrist is the best person to perform this procedure.
Trying to dig out the ingrown nail on your own could worsen the problem. Instead of successfully digging it out, you could make a larger wound that opens up your toe to infection.
Improve Nail Hygiene
Correcting the curve of the nails by lifting them or removing them are effective. However, you should learn to improve your nail hygiene so that you don’t have to correct curved nails again.
You should clean your nails weekly. Cut and file them so they don’t grow too long. Remember to cut the nail straight and not too short so that it doesn’t curve inward.
Note: When correcting curved nails on your own, first make sure that your nails aren’t infected. The solutions listed here are for those who don’t have an infected nail.
If your nail is infected it is best to seek medical attention first so that the infection does not spread.
What Happens When You Don’t Correct Curved Nails?
Whenever you notice that you have curved nails, the best thing to do is to correct them or have them treated. If you don’t the problem could lead to an infection.
Usually, ingrown nails do not get corrected on their own. They simply cause you pain and infection until you can’t bear them anymore and seek medical attention.
As the nail is growing inwards, it can cut the skin of the nailbed or toes underneath. This is very painful. And worst of all, it could get infected.
The cut opens up the toes to give access to bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms to infect it. An infection can cause you to have a fever too.
When the infection spreads deeper, it could even reach the bone or the bloodstream. It can further lead to open sores, oozing pus, foot ulcer, gangrene, or sepsis.
The tissue of your foot can decay and die. You may have to get it amputated if the infection turns severe.
This is especially true for people who have diabetes and other chronic illnesses that cause poor circulation on the foot.
Make sure you seek immediate medical help. Meanwhile soaking your foot in an Epsom salt bath may help with the pain.