There are many myths concerning why ingrown toenails form.  One of the more popular ones has to do with one’s nail cutting technique.  It basically states that you can cause an ingrown nail by cutting it back too closely and leaving a ‘hangnail’.  The truth is, by cutting the nail too closely, one does not actually cause an ingrown nail to form.  The nail has already formed at the root, and its growth pattern is determined there, far away from the end of the nail that one cuts.  The way it is cut at the end has no more influence on the nail’s growth than the way one cuts their hair has any influence on if the hair is curly or straight.  However, the way a nail is cut can lead to an irritation of the skin next to the nail, which may ultimately lead to infection or simply inflammation of the skin. If this occurs, then a previously painless pre-existing ingrown nail will become painful.  A ‘hangnail’, or loose remaining small sliver of cut nail can likewise irritate the skin next to the nail, and lead to the same symptoms.