How to Flatten a Curved Toenail

A curved toenail could eventually become a painful ingrown toenail if it's not dealt with properly 1. The nail becomes inflamed and sore, eventually leading to an unpleasant trip to the doctor. While there is no way to flatten or change the shape of an existing toenail, you can help correct the symptoms and alleviate the pain. The process is done by lifting the curve away from the flesh until it grows out normally, or by properly trimming the nail to eventually remove the curved part completely.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Alleviate Pain

Prepare a pail of warm water.

Soak the affected foot in warm water to soften the curved toenail.

Massage the swollen part of the skin if the area is inflamed.

Stuff a small piece of cotton or dental floss under the curved part of the toenail so it is lifted away from the skin. Keeping the toenail from digging into the flesh helps to relieve the pain.


Prepare a pail of warm water.

Soak the affected foot in warm water to soften the curved toenail.

Cut the curved toenail straight across the top. Do not cut the nail too short or round off the corners; this could aggravate the problem. Nails that are cut or rounded shorter than the flesh surrounding them can curve into the skin due to the obstructed growth. Cutting straight across the top, at an appropriate length, prevents the flesh from getting in the way of the nail.


To prevent curved toenails, avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes. Toes that are squished into uncomfortable shoes can suffer from abnormal toenail growth, causing them to curve and eventually press into the skin.


If your curved toenails continue to come back, see a doctor. A medical expert can prescribe a medical brace to the curved nail to allow it to grow to a length where it can be cut off, or remove a section of the nail completely so it can grow normally starting from the nail bed.