Smarter: You Could Be Cutting Your Toenails the Wrong Way

By Pang-Chieh Ho

Have you ever had an ingrown toenail? Seventy percent of participants in our Instagram poll said yes, so my sympathies. If no, lucky you—congratulations on never having to experience that peculiar brand of pain.

This week I’m talking about how to make sure you don’t cut your toenails in a way that might lead to an ingrown nail, as well as how to treat one. Also in this issue: What 100 calories of Halloween candy looks like, and what does a car’s recirculation mode actually do?


‘You Nailed This’

It was only a month ago that I learned that I had been cutting my toenails wrong all this time.

I was already aware that I cut my nails probably way too frequently. What I didn’t know was that my preference for tapering my nail edges could lead to an ingrown toenail, which developed on my big toe.

An ingrown toenail is just like it sounds: It’s a bit gross and pretty painful. And it’s what happens when a nail grows into the skin, usually at the sides of the nail. It often causes pain, redness, swelling, and warmth in the toe, possibly followed by an infection, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

What can cause an ingrown toenail?
It can be a result of wearing socks and shoes that are too tight and short, or it can come from trauma, such as stubbing your toe or having an object fall on your foot, says the ACFAS. For some people, the tendency for ingrown nails is an inherited trait. The most common cause, however, comes from improper trimming, which was definitely my case.

So what’s the right way to cut your toenails?
“The correct way to trim your nails is to cut them straight across with no curvature,” says Ebonie Vincent, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon at Orange County Podiatry in Orange and Long Beach, Calif. You can see the image here for the right shape they should be.

You also shouldn’t cut your nails too short, according to the ACFAS. One way you can make sure is that you should be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail, according to the ACFAS.

If you’re already suffering from an ingrown toenail, what should you do?
You can try soaking the toe in warm (room temperature) water with Epsom salts, says Michael Coyer, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon who also works at Orange County Podiatry and is a Fellow Member of the ACFAS.

This may soften the skin surrounding the toenail and help to reduce inflammation and pain. It is important for the water to not be too hot in order to prevent damage to the surrounding tissues, Michael says.

You should also wear comfortable shoes with sufficient room for your toes and if you can, consider sandals until the condition clears up, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 

If the toe is inflamed and red, you will need to see a podiatrist to have an antibiotic prescribed and, in some cases, the ingrown nail removed. What you should not do is attempt to remove the nail at home yourself. If you continue to cut it, you might worsen its condition, according to the ACFAS.

Bonus reading: What to do if your toenails are discolored.


This is what 100 calories of Halloween candy looks like.


Every year around 43 million people get contacted by debt collection agencies for unpaid medical bills. If it happens, do not pay anything immediately, experts say. Instead, take these steps.

1. Gather as much info as you can about the collection agency and rep, the healthcare provider that says you owe the money, and the bill in question. 

2. Ask the debt collector to send verification of the debt. Within five days of making that request, the collection agency is required by law to send you a letter that lists your rights as a consumer as well as details about the debt.

3. File a dispute within 30 days of receiving the verification letter, via either email or certified letter. Doing so gives you time to present your case, and the debt collector has to stop all collection attempts and send you additional information about your debt, such as the original invoice.

4. Make sure the money owed is listed as medical debt. Your credit score could be in jeopardy if your medical bills were mistakenly labeled as credit card debt or a car loan, for example.

Read here for instances when you don’t need to pay a debt collector for a medical bill.


A question I’ve always wanted to ask: What does a car’s recirculation mode actually do?

Have any other questions about cars? Let us know.


🧐 How to Clear Up Brain Fog
Brain fog can be caused by long COVID, meds, depression, and more.

📱 The Best Cell Phone Case for Your Pricey Device
And are “military grade” certified cases any good?

😱 Halloween Face Paint Can Be Toxic to Kids
Well, this is frightening.

💧 Best Dishwashers for $1,000 or Less (available to CR members)
Each dishwasher has been evaluated for at least 28 hours in the lab.


Photo: Alisa O'Connor/Consumer Reports

Love it or hate it, pumpkin is one of the most defining flavors of autumn. CR staffers recently tried out 24 pumpkin spice and other fall products from Trader Joe’s to see which are worth buying and which you should definitely skip.

🧡 The ones we went “ahhh”:

Pumpkin biscotti: “I love them and would serve them to my fanciest friends, but won’t so that there’s more for me.” —Kevin Doyle, enterprise editor

Pumpkin chipotle roasting sauce: “This one’s a winner; 10/10. As soon as you open the jar and give it a stir, it’s obvious this is made with real pumpkin.” —Alisa O’Connor, photo editor

👎 The ones we went “nahhh”:

Pumpkin waffles: “My kiddo took one bite, placed it back on her plate, and left it untouched for the rest of her breakfast.” —Ginger Cowles, managing editor

Pumpkin Greek nonfat yogurt: “Yogurt is the defining flavor [not pumpkin]; it just isn’t good yogurt.” —Theresa Panetta, senior video producer

You can read more of our love/hate reviews of Trader Joe’s fall food items here.


Today I learned that if your car has been flooded, you shouldn’t immediately turn it on.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.