Pincer Nail – Causes, Features and Possible Treatments

Have you seen a common toenail condition called pincer nail? Do you have this kind of nail deformity? This article will give you some important information on how this disease occur, its characteristics and if there are still solutions to this kind of health issue.

While most of us (especially women) do want an attractive nail in both hands and feet, there are instances that could get in the way which sometimes are unavoidable. Pincer nail is one of those nail deformity conditions that can ruin your overall appearance.

If this sounds like you, then I suggest that you read this short article and learn how you can solve this condition naturally.

What is Pincer Nail?

Pincer nail is a toenail disorder that is characterized by transverse overcurvature, in which the lateral edges of the nail slowly approaches each other. This condition is a painful one where it compresses the nailbed and the underlying dermis.

Sometimes referred as “omega nails” or “trumpet nails”, a pincer nail development is less likely to occur in the fingernails and commonly features no symptoms. Unlike ingrown nail which is characterized by affecting only a single side of the toenail, pincer nail affects both side of the nail plate.

Most studies about this condition led to conclusions that it is mostly hereditary in nature. However, etiology, pathogenesis and including possibility of inheritance are all not yet conclusive.

Pincer nail has also been associated with genes or mutation possibilities, which is then linked to hereditary status. The excessive curvature of the nail plate is the most common characteristic of this toenail disorder.

This condition can be easily distinguished by just simply looking at the toenail appearance – an exaggerated nail forming a C-curve where both of its ends are pinching inwards the skin. Some of the characteristics of pincer nail includes the following:

  • Nail becomes thick
  • Brittle or cracked nail
  • C-curve nail
  • Causes discomfort and pain
  • The surrounding area becomes red and tender
  • Inflammation and infection are likely to occur

Read More: Hereditary Pincer Nail – National Institutes of Health

Causes of Pincer Nail

pincer nailThere are several factors that can cause pincer nail. As aforementioned above, genetics play a big part of the story since the natural shape of the nail determines how it will subsequently grow through time.

As the pincer nail evolves, the nail plate can pinch harder into the skin, giving complete pain and discomfort. Some of the possible causes that most experts are looking includes the following:

  • Incorrect nail care (cutting / too much pedicure)
  • Improper fitting of shoes
  • Aging (pincer nail develops mostly in the elderly)
  • Health disorders that can affect nail health (liver problems, diabetes, malnutrition)
  • Can be a complication from an underlying diseases such as degenerative arthritis

Possible Treatments for Pincer Nail

A severe pincer nail is more likely impossible to correct where surgery is the only possible treatment. If the condition is only on its early stages, corrective filling and proper nail care can be enough to maintain a healthy nail or delay pincer nail development.

Corrective filling helps your nail to naturally grow as it should be, preventing any curvature as much as possible. It helps the nail to grow at the right position, which prevents the nail plate to pinch into the skin.

Prevention methods such as nail softener and other nail care products can help prevent the development of both ingrown and pincer nails as well as dry or cracked nails. If you think you have a family history of pincer nails, you have to start applying some nail care methods to prevent this condition. You can try the product below to help soften your toenails naturally.

Other corrective procedures are also performed by cosmetic surgeons, including the famous “V” cut technique which is recommended for people with severely irritating pincer nail.

What the V-cut technique do is to lessen the arch of the nail where the center of both edges are cut. However, not all cases are successful as the outcome will still either be successful or not, depending on how the nail grows.

pincer nail treatmentAnother procedure is to drill or make a small hole on each side of the nail plate. Both holes on each side are then threaded with a wire, crossing the nail and down through to the other hole. The wire is tightened to prevent curvature of the nail. What it does is to force the high arch of the nail to flatten and widen naturally as it grows, preventing a C-curve.

If these aren’t your type of treatments, then you can go to a more advanced but expensive surgical procedure called phenol matricectomy.

Phenol matricectomy requires local anesthesia that are commonly performed in doctor’s clinics or in an out-patient status in hospitals.

The procedure removes the outer edges of the nail, then a compound called phenol is applied. Phenol is said to help destroy the matrix cells, which prevents regrowth of the nail. Surgical procedures also includes dry nails, cracked nails or itchy skin treatments. Antibiotics will also be given to prevent possible infection.

Your Diet Plays a Big Role

Most people neglect the role of their diet with regards to their nails. Most people believe that pincer nail is not caused primarily by nutrient deficiencies.

But, some nutrients are notably needed to get the optimum health levels for skin, bone, hair and nails.

Getting sufficient amounts of the following nutrients and vitamins can help prevent pincer nails and maintain it healthy as long as possible.

  • Protein
  • Biotin
  • Iron
  • Vitamins A, C, D and B12
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Zinc

You shouldn’t also forget the power of water. You need to drink adequate amounts of water daily to keep your body hydrated all the time.

Lack of liquids in the body leads to poor physical and mental performance, makes your body prone to diseases and dehydration.

Plus, inadequate water can result to drying up of cuticles which is a precursor to pincer nail development.

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Conclusion on Pincer Nail

Pincer nail is a rare disorder that can affect anyone in both fingernails and toenails. It is not a serious condition but can be severely painful that can cause discomfort and ugly appearance.

I suggest that if you are prone to this nail disorder, you must immediately start a daily nail care habit to ensure that you delay or postpone the development of pincer nail.

Otherwise, your only best option is to go for a surgical procedure for possible nail correction. If you don’t have money to spend for pincer nail treatment, you can simply hide it via wearing a comfortable shoes whenever you go outdoors.

Did you like this article? If so, please share it to your social media profiles and help this post go viral online. The social media buttons are provided below for your sharing conveniences.

On the other hand, if you would like to be heard regarding your experiences with pincer nails, then don’t be shy and tell us your valuable inputs by commenting below. Share your opinions and lets start a healthy nail conversation!


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 Add your comment
  1. Regular reader of Preventdisease.have nail problem for one year. Got good information.thanks

  2. Your info is outdated…V cut doesn’t prevent this.There are braces applied to the nail edges in stead of drilling holes even that doesn’t rectify it.. The main reason for this is the aging process regardless of genes,or way of cutting the nail. Even when the toenail is removed it grows back the same way…involuted. It is important to maintain the nail at a short length as it curves inwards more as it grows…better to have someone else cut for you as can’t see from the top what the nail is doing.

    • Disagree if not genetic. My mother had it on four toes I have on three my son has on one and two of my brothers children have them.ages 79. 43.16.31 and 17. Hereditary has something to do with it. And yes v cut doesn’t make it go away but does help with pain

      • Have you considered having a slice of the toenail removed …along the side of the affected skin? I’ve had clients who’ve found it to give them over a year without having it to start to be a problem.You are fortunate the V cut does helpl your pain. I’ve not heard that yet. I think you misunderstood ..I wasn’t saying it wasn’t hereditary…only that it is also found as people age and it wasn’t depending on how the nail is cut either. I guess I could have worded it better. I just get annoyed that so much literature and what gp’s say is that it’s caused by how you cut your nails or the improper shoe ware.Both my daughters have it also. I still get some of the gp’s telling me to leave the nail to grow longer and cut straight across..Grrrr.

  3. What does a v cut look like & how do I do it to myself

    • I don’t ever do the V cut on any of my clients and do not recommend it. Make sure you keep your nails short.You may have to find someone to trim them for you initially. Do make sure it’s someone who knows what they’re doing. I do have some clients who have their gp remove a strip of the toenail on the affected side. It is good for them for a year or so before it grows back to needing trimming. Most don’t mind having the nail pain for a couple of days with the removal as it’s worth not dealing with the chronic issue.

  4. I have had this my hole life the best only way to get rid of the pain is to have it revoved permanently my feet feel so much better now

  5. it has begun on my toes a year ago and it is getting worst. I have started filing the top of them and soaking my feet as much as possible…I will let you know if there are good results.

    • Larry it sounds like you are treating toenail fungus. Pincer nails are how the edges curve under. Filing the tops won’t do anything for it. Take a photo from the bottom of your feet looking up into the tips of the toes. Google involuted toe nails and see if they resemble yours. After a bath or shower push the skin away from the nail and lift the edges up. There is no need to soak as much as possible. I still have clients who prefer to have the nail removed by the gp and then they’re good for a year or so.

      • It’s not fungus….the nails are so curved that (except the big toe) it’s like a tube when looking at them like you say. Yes, I have begun doing what you suggest and filing the upper top. Hope it works to some degree because it’s ugly although there is no pain whatsoever. For the big toes, I had the edges removed cause those where painful…now there is no more pain. I will let you know on the eventual results.

  6. Hello my name is Deborah and I’m suffering from this condition since I was a kid. Now is very advanced, affecting all my 20 toenails. Most of the nails already grew all the way inward. I’m so used to feel the pain but lately I’m having problems to cut, became too painful to touch it. I live in an island and here I can’t find any treatment besides Lamisil pills. The pills affect me too much and I don’t see any improvement. I’m really worried since it’s affecting my work, my sports, my self esteem and life. Please help me

  7. This last summer I went & had a pedicure done, I have never in my life had one but when I was getting my fingernails done I was talked into it.. I will NEVER do it again as I am now suffering from this ailment!! My big toe nails have always been flat & perfect but after the pedicure they started curling & now are literally killing me!!!

  8. I’m 60 years old and started developing pincer nails on my hands and both feet about a year ago. My left index finger and my right second toe were the worst. I do believe heredity is a factor as my dad had terrible toenails; I also have diabetes and a fatty liver. The dermatologist removed the nail bed on both sides of my finger nail and kept the middle part of the nail..well see. He told me the V cut does not work and the other braces etc look like medeval torture! He said they do not work either. His opinion was RA plays a big role as well as certain medications (didn’t say which meds though). I had three toenails removed including the nail bed because I don’t want them growing back and quite frankly was not concerned with looks.. was just glad to get rid of those ugly, painful nails. I have them on one other fingernail and my thumb.will probably lose another finger nail. Very painful. Agree to keep them as short as you can..tough to pick up coins from the floor or pick your nose Kidding aside they look better short. I have asked several times of both the dermatologist and podiatrist if I wasdoing something wrong..both assured me I was not…just an unlucky draw so don’t feel like you could have prevented it or that you groomed your nails incorrectly.

  9. I have developed this problem within the past year…two big toes and one thumb nail. I have liver disease, and neuropathy. My podiatrist said that my problem wasn’t caused by fungus. I just did a v cut today. To bad I didn’t read the comments sooner! Not looking forward to treatment, though. There’s no way I’m getting my thumbnail pulled out. Yikes!

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