A Podiatrist Says This Common Nail-Clipping Mistake Is The Number 1 Culprit Behind Toe Jam

Photo: Getty/Kinga Krzeminska
There are many elements of our beauty routines that fall into the category of "things that make us feel good," like full-body massages and luxury face masks. Then, there are the ones that are absolute necessities, like cutting our toenails. Aside from the fact that walking around with sharp, long toenails can be down-right uncomfortable, it can also lead to some pretty gnarly foot problems. One of the biggies? Toe jam.

Toe jam—aka the (sometimes smelly) gunk that can accumulate from your socks and shoes between your toes and inside of your nailbeds—is a side-effect of needing to wash feet better after wearing shoes. But according to Najwa Javed, DPM, a California-based podiatrist and creator of footwear brand E'MAR, another culprit behind the crud is improper toenail clipping.  "Toe jam can happen when the toe is compressed within the shoe and debris gets in stuck in between [the toes]," says Dr. Javed. But, she adds, "it can also happen under the nail plate."

In order to avoid it, you'll want to trim your nails to a very specific shape that will help keep the debris from accumulating under your nails. "Always cut the nail straight across and bevel the edges in a square round shape," she says. "Do not cut at an angle."

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To ensure you're getting the right shape, be sure to use toenail clippers with a long, ergonomic handle—like these—which will give you more control over how you're cutting. You'll also want to set the scene with proper lighting and a comfortable seat that allows you to place your foot in a stationary position. Go slowly and methodically so that you don't cut too much and hurt yourself (because, ouch), and leave a little bit of white at the tip of the nail. Avoid cutting the corners of the nail, and instead, use a file to achieve the square-round shape that will keep toe jam at bay.

A few other things you can do to keep your toes jam free? "Wear an athletic shoe that is a half-size larger than your actual shoe size," says Dr. Javed, explaining that your feet swell when you're on them for long periods of time, and cramping inside of your shoe can cause an influx of gunk. "Also, wearing thinner socks can help," she adds. And to get rid of any jam that's already made itself at home, take some time to scrub between your toes every time you step in the shower. Glamorous? Not so much. But neither is walking around with toe jam.

Give your feet a little extra love with this trainer-approved stretch routine. 

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Tags: Nail Care
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