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How to Keep From Getting Ingrown Toe Nails When Using the Lever Type Toenail Clippers

Updated on March 11, 2017
MarleneB profile image

Marlene spends numerous hours researching solutions to common and sometimes obscure health and beauty issues. She shares her results here.

Lever Type Toenail Clippers


What is an Ingrown Toenail?

If you have ever had an ingrown toenail, then you know how much pain a little ingrown toenail can be. The medical term for ingrown toenail is onychocryptosis or unguis incarnatus. It is a condition in which the corner or side of the toenail grows into the skin of the toe. There can be swelling and sometimes infection. Although ingrown toenails can occur on any toe, it is the big toe that is usually affected by this common affliction.

Many things can cause ingrown toenails. Some of the more common causes are: wearing shoes that are too tight or too short, injury to the toenail, fungus infection to the toenail, incorrectly clipping toenails, also heredity may play a part in your disposition to getting ingrown toenails. When the toenail is pushed down, such as what happens when wearing tight shoes, the toenail grows inward or downward and presses into the skin, causing irritation as it grows. Some people clip their toenails too short or into the wrong shape or direction and that can cause the nail to grow into the skin, as well.

I had an ingrown toenail once in my life and I can tell you, it is no fun at all . My big toenail became swollen, red around the sides of my toenail, and it was difficult to wear shoes. I had to go to the doctor’s office to have it treated. The doctor said that the problem was most likely caused by wearing shoes that were too tight. This was during the era when the pointy toed stiletto shoes were the fashion trend. But, I had to give up wearing the stilettos after my doctor gave strict advice to never wear those type of shoes again and he prescribed an over-the-counter salve to help with the infection.

Ingrown Toenail With Toothpick

My doctor recommended using a toothpick to pry the nail away from the skin and "train" the nail to grow straight.
My doctor recommended using a toothpick to pry the nail away from the skin and "train" the nail to grow straight. | Source

Managing Your Ingrown Toenail

But, before my doctor sent me home, he talked to me about a cute little trick that would, in the short term, alleviate the pain associated with the toenail cutting into my skin. He showed me how I could place a toothpick between the nail and skin so as to lift the ingrown nail away from the skin until the skin healed and the toenail had grown out in the proper direction. He advised me to use gauze and tape to secure the toothpick in place. He also showed me how to clip my toenail to reduce the chance that the toenail might grow inward again. I was lucky I had a minor infection that could be treated without antibiotics or surgery. But, some people aren't so lucky and need surgery and other treatments to cure more advanced cases of ingrown toenails.

What is the Best way to Clip Toenails?

First, you want to make sure you choose the correct type of toenail clipper. My doctor recommended a type of toenail clipper known as the lever type toenail clipper. This is a type of nail clipper that looks like pliers with blades at the end of the handles. These blades cut through the top and underside of the nail at the same time. There are two shapes of lever type nail clippers. One type of lever clippers has a shape that has a straight clipping edge. The other type has a concaved clipping edge. Both of the lever type clippers usually come with a file attached to it to aid in cleaning underneath the toenail and for filing and finishing the edge of the toenail after clipping it.

Depending on the size of your toenails, you may need to use both types of clippers. To safely clip your toenails with the lever type toenail clipper:

  1. Place your toenail into the clipper.
  2. Cut straight across the nail. Use small nips to get a clean cut. Use the flat edge for the big toenail and if your nails are small enough, you may use the curved edge toenail clippers for other toenails. The curve offers convenience in clipping smaller toenails.
  3. Cut the toenail so that the toenail ends at the tip of your toe. This will help keep the toenail from growing downward and into the skin.
  4. Use the pointed end of the toenail clipper file to gently clean under the toenail.
  5. Use the file to smooth the tip of the toenail. Do this in a horizontal movement (side-to-side motion).

Watch This Video To Learn Exactly How To Clip Your Toenails

Soapy Water and Alcohol Are Excellent for Cleaning Toenail Clippers


Keep Your Toenail Clippers Clean

To keep bacteria from growing on the toenail clippers and then getting the bacteria on your skin, causing an infection, please keep your toenail clippers clean. Clean the toenail clippers before and after you use them. Just soak your toenail clippers in a bowl of soapy water for about 15 minutes. Rinse under running water. Dry your toenail clippers with a towel and then wipe the cutting edge with an alcohol soaked cotton ball.

Clip Your Toenails On a Regular Basis

Clip your toenails on a regular basis. When the toenails begin to grow beyond the toe, it is time to clip your toenails. Regular toenail clipping not only makes your toenails look attractive, but properly cut toenails can help your toenails grow strong and can help you avoid getting ingrown toenails.

Discard Dull Toenail Clippers

When your toenail clippers become dull, throw them out and get a new pair of clippers. Dull toenail clippers make it difficult to clip your toenails cleanly, giving your toenails a jagged, unhygienic appearance.


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi alocsin, the toothpick idea really works. I have only had ingrown toenails one time - when I was a dancer (way back in the day...). Anyway, I used a toothpick to ease the pain of my toenail cutting into the flesh. It was a temporary solution, but it worked until the pain went away. Later, I saw a foot doctor who showed me the proper technique for cutting my toenails. I have never had a problem since that time.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I suffer from this every once in a while but it's because I clip my toenails too close. Didn't realize I should be clipping this toward the tip of the toe. I like the toothpick idea and will try that out next time an ingrown toenail happens. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I'm like you, Arlene. I don't like people touching my feet, either. If I recall, I didn't even let the doctor touch my feet. So, he had to just prescribe stuff and give me instructions on how I could help myself. Thank you so much for your feedback.

      Faith, I have only had to deal with the ingrown toenail one time in my life - never again will I let that happen. Thank you very much for your visit.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Marlene, very insightful. I just hate those ingrown toenails - so very painful. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      VOTED UP AND EVERYTHING ELSE. Hey, Marlene! Last week, I could have used your article on choosing the right toenail clippers to prevent ingrown toenails. Ouch! I think I could help myself by getting pedicures, but besides being cheap, I hate anyone touching my feet. Well, now I have useful information to prevent all of this. Along with the pain!