This One Trick May Prevent Ingrown Nails & All You Need Is A Nail File

mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor

Alexandra Engler is the senior beauty and lifestyle editor who has worked for many of the leading lifestyle publications for the last seven years.

Image by Alexey Kuzma / Stocksy

A often uncomfortable annoyance for many people: ingrown nails. These are nails (either on fingers, but more likely toes—particularly the big toe) that grow into the skin rather than atop. Not only are they less than ideal for sandal season for purely aesthetic reasons, but they can become inflamed and tender to touch—potentially making some movement and activities painful.

Most often these occur because the nail was trimmed incorrectly, says Nadine Abramcyk, owner of nontoxic nail salon tenoverten. "When you overcut the nail at the edges, so they curve down instead of being straight across, you create the opportunity for the nail to grow into the skin." This is especially true for the more active among us, as repeated pressure on the nail (say, from running shoes) can curve the growth of the nail.

So what are you to do? The first thing is to make sure you're cutting your nails correctly: straight across, never curved. But, if you get a bad pedicure, you can still salvage the nail, says Abramcyk. "Right in the middle of the nail, just file down a little bit. Think of a heart—you know how it has a little divot in the center? Like that." Take your nail file at a 30-degree angle and work down no more than a centimeter. Regularly flip the sides of the file so you get an even divot. "This tricks your nail into growing toward the middle, rather than out into the skin," she says. Then, when your nails grow out enough, you can trim them straight across again, sans divot. This way you're not always walking around with a mini triangle in your nail.

Also, in severe cases, ingrowns can lead to infection, so if you find yourself dealing with one that won't go away and causes pain, visit a doctor—not a salon. "Technicians are not podiatrists, so they shouldn't be diagnosing anything," she says. "This trick is just a good way for you to avoid or lessen ingrowns on your own so you don't have to run to a doctor every time you start to feel one growing in."

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