A common question I hear from my patients is this –
“What is the RIGHT way to cut my toenails?”
Although it may sound rudimentary to some, there IS a right way (and a wrong way!) to trim those nails. If you are not careful, you can easily end up with an infection or ingrown toenail.
Moreover, if you are diabetic, you need to be extra careful when trimming your nails. The rate at which wounds heal among diabetics is slow. An infection or bleeding from a cut in the skin as a result of improper toenail trimming could lead to serious health complications among diabetics.
Why is the “right way” important?
As mentioned above, trimming your toenails the right way can help prevent an ingrown toenail or infection.
When nails get lodged in the skin, as opposed to growing out naturally, they can cause a lot of pain.
In some cases, ingrown toenails lead to serious infections which can cause pus, inflammation, or even bleeding. Even the slightest pressure from wearing socks or shoes can cause discomfort.
6 Simple Steps to Follow when Trimming Your Toenails
Rule # 1 – Cut Your Nails Based on Your Anatomy
- Often you will hear you are supposed to cut your nail straight across, and for many people this is the case. However, in my experience, it depends on the shape of your toes.
- In some instances, rounding the corners of the toenails is exactly the right thing to do. In other cases, it is correct to cut them straight across. If a person has a toenail that curves significantly and embeds, they need to round these toenails off, so they do not cut into the skin and create an ingrown toenail.
- If you are unsure how you should be cutting your toenails, feel free to ask at your next visit.
Rule # 2 – Use the Right Nail Clippers
- Toenails should be cut using larger clippers instead of your regular fingernail clippers.
- Make sure your nail clippers and filers are disinfected before you use them.
- If you suffer from athlete’s foot, other foot infections, or if you are diabetic, don’t share your nail clippers and other tools you use with others.
Rule # 3 – Trim Your Nails When They Are Wet
- When they are wet, toenails are softer and therefore the tissue is easier to cut without chipping or breaking.
- It’s usually when toenails are dry that they are more apt to chip, crack or break.
- When the toenails are full of moisture, the tissue is softer, more flexible and cuts cleaner.
Rule # 4 – Don’t Trim Your Nails Too Short
- One way to prevent ingrown toenails is by not cutting your nails too short.
- If cut too short, the nail will dig into the skin at the top of the nail bed once it starts to grow back.
- If this skin is broken once the nails start to grow back, it can cause skin infections.
- Don’t try trimming the nail all they way across with one clip. Instead, make a few smaller cuts to achieve the desired length.
Rules # 5 – File Your Nails
- Filing can help smooth out tiny, uneven edges after you’ve cut the nail, and it can be used to maintain the nail length between trims as well.
- The right way to use nail filers is by moving them in one direction as opposed to moving them back and forth.
Rule # 6 – Leave Cuticles Alone!
- Use a cuticle stick if you want to push back your cuticle.
- If you attempt to cut the cuticle, the skin can break and start bleeding – this can lead to the site getting infected.
Toe Nail Trimming Advice from Rocky Foot & Ankle
There is no hard and fast rule about when you should trim your nails. The rate at which nails grow can differ from person to person.
Also, people have different preferences when it comes to the nail length. The simple rule of thumb, when it comes to trimming your toenails, is this – trim them before they start pressing into your shoes or hurting.
If you notice an ingrown toenail is infected, consult with a professional podiatrist as soon as possible. Neatly cutting your toenails, in addition to making your feet look good, is necessary for preventing foot infections and other foot-related problems.