Why Do Toenails Grow Sideways? Understanding the Causes and Solutions

Many people wonder why their toenails grow sideways, causing discomfort and sometimes even pain. The phenomenon of sideways toenail growth, also known as onychomycosis, can occur due to various reasons. Understanding the causes and solutions can help individuals prevent and treat this condition effectively.

Improper Nail Cutting Techniques

One common reason for toenails growing sideways is the use of improper nail cutting techniques. Cutting nails too short, rounding the corners too much, or cutting them at an angle can lead to abnormal growth. When nails are not cut straight across, the likelihood of them growing sideways increases.

To prevent sideways toenail growth due to improper nail cutting techniques:

  • Cut your toenails straight across, following the natural shape of the nail.
  • Avoid cutting the corners too much or too deeply.
  • Use clean, sterilized nail clippers or scissors.

Trauma or Injury

Another factor contributing to sideways toenail growth is trauma or injury to the nail or toe. Nails can be inadvertently subjected to trauma during various activities, such as playing sports, wearing tight shoes, or stubbing the toe. The trauma can disrupt the normal growth pattern of the nail, causing it to grow strangely.

If you have experienced trauma to your toenail and notice sideways growth, consider the following steps:

  1. Keep the affected toe clean and dry to prevent infection.
  2. Wear shoes that provide enough room for your toes to move comfortably.
  3. Apply antibiotic ointment to the affected area if there are signs of infection.
  4. Consult a healthcare professional if the problem persists or worsens.

Genetic Predisposition

In some cases, sideways toenail growth can be attributed to genetic predisposition. Some individuals may inherit certain nail characteristics that make their nails more prone to growing sideways. The shape and structure of the nail matrix, responsible for nail growth, can be influenced by genetics.

While it may not be possible to change your genetic makeup, you can take steps to manage sideways toenail growth:

  • Regularly trim and maintain your nails using proper techniques.
  • Wear comfortable and properly fitting shoes to minimize pressure on the nails.
  • Apply over-the-counter antifungal nail serums to prevent infections that may exacerbate sideways growth.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections can also contribute to sideways toenail growth. Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, making toenails susceptible to infection. When a fungal infection affects the nail, it can cause the nail to become brittle, thickened, and misshapen, leading to sideways growth.

If you suspect a fungal infection as the cause of your sideways toenail growth, consider these solutions:

  1. Keep your feet clean and dry, especially the area between the toes.
  2. Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such as swimming pools and locker rooms.
  3. Use antifungal creams or powders as directed by a healthcare professional.
  4. Consider taking oral antifungal medications for severe cases.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the nail grows into the skin, causing pain and inflammation. In some cases, this can lead to sideways toenail growth. Ingrown toenails can result from improper nail trimming, tight shoes, or injury to the nail.

If you are experiencing an ingrown toenail with sideways growth, try these remedies:

  • Soak your foot in warm water with Epsom salt to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Gently lift the edge of the ingrown nail using a small piece of cotton or dental floss.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment and cover the affected area with a bandage.
  • Wear open-toed shoes or sandals to relieve pressure on the toenail.

In conclusion, sideways toenail growth can occur due to various factors, including improper nail cutting techniques, trauma or injury, genetic predisposition, fungal infections, and ingrown toenails. By following proper nail care practices, maintaining good foot hygiene, and seeking appropriate medical advice when necessary, individuals can prevent and manage sideways toenail growth effectively.