Why Does Toenail Grow Sideways?

Toenails can grow sideways due to several factors, such as tight or ill-fitting shoes, improper toenail trimming, fungal infections, or genetic predisposition. Sideways toenail growth can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition.

Many wonder why their toenails grow this way and what factors contribute to it. Understanding the causes behind sideways toenail growth is essential in finding the right solutions to prevent or treat this condition. It can be beneficial in avoiding any complications that may arise from ingrown toenails, pain, or discomfort.

We will explore the reasons why toenails grow sideways, such as footwear choices, trimming practices, fungal infections, or genetic factors. By gaining insights into these causes, you can take proactive steps to maintain healthy toenails and prevent future problems.

Contributing Factors

Toenail growth sideways can be attributed to several factors. Understanding these contributing factors can help prevent and manage this common issue. The three primary factors contributing to toenails growing sideways are genetic predisposition, improper footwear, and trauma to the toenails.

Genetic Predisposition

Toenail growth sideways can often be traced back to genetic predisposition. Some individuals may inherit specific nail characteristics that make them more prone to this condition than others. Factors such as the nails’ shape, thickness, or curvature may be genetically inherited, influencing their growth pattern.

Improper Footwear

The types of shoes we wear have a significant impact on toenail growth. Improper footwear that doesn’t fit well can lead to toenails growing sideways. Tight or narrow shoes, high heels, or shoes with a pointed-toe box can place excessive pressure on the toenails, causing them to become misaligned during growth. Wearing comfortable, well-fitted shoes that allow ample space for your toes is essential to prevent this issue.

Trauma To The Toenail

Another factor contributing to the toenail growing sideways is trauma to the toenail. Any forceful impact or repetitive pressure on the toe can disrupt the typical growth pattern of the nail. Common causes of trauma to the toenail include:

  • Stubbing the toe.
  • Dropping a heavy object on it.
  • Participating in activities that involve repetitive movements like running or jumping.

Trauma can also result from poorly performed pedicures or tight toenail trimming.

Toenail growth sideways can be uncomfortable and even painful, but understanding the contributing factors can help prevent and manage this issue. Taking care of your toenails, wearing proper footwear, and avoiding trauma are vital steps to ensure your nails grow healthy and straight.

Prevention And Treatment

If you’ve ever experienced the discomfort of a sideways growing toenail, you know how important it is to prevent and treat this condition promptly. Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to ensure healthy toenails and avoid the pain and inconvenience of ingrown nails. Below, we’ll discuss three key aspects of prevention and treatment: proper nail care, using appropriate footwear, and professional medical interventions.

Proper Nail Care

Proper nail care plays a crucial role in preventing sideways-growing toenails. By following these simple steps, you can maintain the health of your nails:

  • Trim your nails straight across using sharp, sanitized toenail clippers to prevent them from growing into the skin.
  • Avoid cutting the corners of your nails too short, as this can lead to ingrown nails.
  • Regularly file your nails to smooth the edges and prevent sharp corners that can dig into the surrounding skin.
  • Keep your nails clean and dry to minimize the risk of infection.
  • Avoid picking at or tearing your nails, which can damage the delicate nail bed.

Using Appropriate Footwear

The shoes you wear can significantly impact the health of your toenails. Here are some guidelines for selecting appropriate footwear:

  • Choose shoes with enough room in the toe box to prevent crowding and pressure on the nails.
  • Opt for breathable materials that allow air circulation, reducing the risk of fungal infections.
  • Avoid shoes that are too tight or narrow, as they can squeeze the toes and lead to ingrown nails.
  • Wear open-toed shoes or sandals occasionally to allow your toes to breathe and avoid excessive pressure.
  • Avoid wearing high heels for extended periods, as they can exacerbate the problem by pushing your toes forward.

Professional Medical Interventions

When preventive measures aren’t sufficient, or you’re already suffering from a sideways growing toenail, seeking professional medical interventions is essential. Some of the options your healthcare provider may recommend include:

  1. Partial nail avulsion: This procedure involves removing part of the affected toenail to relieve the pressure and allow proper growth.
  2. Nail lifting: The healthcare professional may lift the ingrown nail from the skin or place a splint under the nail to guide it to grow correctly.
  3. Prescription medications: In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or topical medications to treat existing infections or prevent further complications.
  4. Electrosurgery: In certain situations, electrosurgery may remove or prevent the affected nail from growing sideways again.

Remember, if you’re experiencing persistent pain, swelling, or signs of infection, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Toenails growing sideways can be caused by various factors, such as genetics, trauma, or improper footwear. Understanding the reasons behind this condition can help individuals prevent it and maintain the health of their toenails. Regular trimming, wearing proper footwear, and seeking professional advice can all contribute to maintaining the appropriate growth of toenails.

These steps can improve overall foot health and prevent the discomfort and potential complications associated with sideways toenail growth.

Frequently Asked Questions For Why Does Toenail Grow Sideways

Why Does Toenail Grow Sideways?

Toenails may grow sideways for various reasons, such as improper trimming techniques, tight shoes, fungal infections, or underlying health conditions. When the nail matrix is damaged or the nail bed is affected, it can result in an irregular growth pattern.

It’s essential to address the underlying cause and practice proper nail care to prevent further complications.

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