Avoid Pain and Infection by Knowing How to Trim Your Toenails Properly

By Amanda Lawrence |
|5 min read

Simple self-care knowledge goes a long way. For example, knowing how to cut toenails properly. Keeping a tab and cutting toenails in an appropriate manner prevents them from growing too long. Long nails are susceptible to chipping and cracking, becoming ingrown, and ultimately causing a lot of discomforts.

Curving ingrown toenails dig into your skin, possibly leading to pain and infection. You can avoid the side effects by knowing how to cut your toenails properly. Read on to find out how.

A Step-by-step Guide to Cutting Your Toenails Properly

Trimming your toenails is not a quid pro quo process. Here's our handy guide that breaks down the process for you.

1. Preparation

If you want to do something properly, there's always a preparation process involved. Knowing how to cut toenails correctly is no different.

  • Soak and wash your feet

Soaking your feet for a few minutes softens your toenails and makes them easier to trim. Soaking brittle toenails ensures you don't split them during the trimming process. After soaking, dry your feet and nails with a clean cloth. Wet nails are more prone to tearing or bending, which doesn't give you a smooth cut.

  • Choose the right tools

Choosing the right tools is an important part of knowing how to cut toenails correctly. Here are the two options you can explore:

Nail clippers

Nail clippers are easily available in beauty stores or supermarkets. Toenail clippers cut your nails along a concave edge and feature a stronger bite to tackle thick and ingrown nails.

Here's a quick tip: make sure that the crescent of the clippers matches the size of your toenails. When the crescent is too big or small, you won't get a proper cut.

Manicure scissors

Manicure scissors can give you good control when you are trimming your toenails. Moreover, they are an ideal option if you have ingrown nails and need to be delicate around the edges.

However, as the name suggests, manicure scissors are better suited for fingernails and may not be ideal if you have thick and brittle nails. You might end up using more force than necessary and that leads to injuries and chipping.

2. Cutting

Once you have primed your nails and chosen the right tools, it's time for the main event: cutting your toenails. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Decide how much to cut (and don't overdo it)

Decide how short you want your nails to be by keeping in mind the shoes you wear as well as aesthetic preferences. However, be careful not to cut too much and expose the skin underneath as this can lead to infections and ingrown nails.

  • Trim gradually (rather than all at once)

You may be tempted to snip away the free edge of your nail all at once. However, toenails are naturally oval shaped and a single cut will flatten out the oval.

Why is this important? Toenails growing straight out in a boxy shape results in edges that either chip or curve down and dig in sharply while causing ingrown nails.

  • Cut straight across

Follow the natural curve of your toenails and cut straight across. Avoid cutting in an exaggerated curved shape as this can cause the edges to dig down and lead to painful ingrown nails.

3. Filing

Cutting your toenails can leave jagged edges that can snag on fabric (for example, your pants or blanket). Filing them actually gives a smooth edge as well as a well-groomed look.

  • Wait before your toenails dry

The filling is a process that needs a dry and relatively hardened base. Filing wet toenails are ineffective and you might chafe the skin around the toenails in the process.

  • File them into a natural shape

Smooth out the edges by dragging the emery board on your nail file in one direction. Keep in mind the natural shape of your toenails while filing.

How to Deal with Thick Toenails

Not everyone is blessed with easy to trim toenails. Here are some reasons why your toenails are thick and how to tackle them while trimming.

1. What causes thick toenails

Here are some possible causes of thick toenails:

  • Fungal infection such as onychomycosis
  • Tight or inappropriate shoes
  • An injury
  • A condition like psoriasis that leads to rapid cell build-up leading to thick, ridged or pitted nails

2. Quick tips to trim thick toenails

Follow these easy steps to deal with your thick toenails:

  • Soak your toenails for at least 10 minutes before cutting them. Dry them off before proceeding to trim.

  • Use a nail clipper to make small and straight cuts. This will help to avoid splintering the nail.

  • Use a nail file to smooth out the jagged edges.

If you're experiencing pain or discomfort while cutting your toenails, consult your physician right away.

The Wrap

Properly trimmed and well-groomed toenails can help you avoid a number of mishaps; notably infections and ingrown toenails. Remember to soak your toenails to soften them and dry them off before cutting. And while it may be convenient, remember not to cut your toenails too short. Lastly, experiencing discomfort while trimming thick toenails means you should talk to your doctor about it.



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