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We all need to cut our toenails every six to eight weeks. You probably don’t give it much thought, but it’s easy to make mistakes that lead to painful problems.

Happily, this doesn’t need to be a problem. Here’s our guide to help you cut your toenails the right way

  1. Have a Bath or Shower First

This makes things easier by softening the nails, and it keeps infection away. Your feet are wrapped up in shoes and socks all day, and the warm, damp environment encourages bacterial infections and fungi.

  1. Use the Right Tools

Toenail scissors may work for you, but as toenails tend to be thick and tough, toenail clippers are the best option. They have better cutting power and they are the right size, which also helps prevent sharp and jagged edges.

  1. Clip or Cut Straight Across the Nails

Don’t be tempted to follow the curve of the toe to round off the ends. This encourages the nail to grow into the skin and leads to ingrown toenails. A straight cut leaves a sharp point at each end but that’s absolutely fine.

Make sure you don’t cut the nail too short as this damages the nail bed, and that’s going to hurt. Leave 1-2mm of the white end of the nail visible; if you can’t see this, you’ve gone too far.

  1. File the Edges

Jagged, sharp edges should be carefully filed smooth with a good emery board. This is much better than taking an extra cut to round things off.

  1. Keep Your Tools Clean

Scissors and clippers should be cleaned regularly with antibacterial soap. This prevents fungal infections or transferring infection from one foot to another.

When Should Your Podiatrist Help?

If you suffer from certain conditions, it’s unwise to cut your toenails yourself. It’s best to let your podiatrist do it in a safe and sterile environment to prevent causing yourself extra problems.


Nerve damage is common for diabetics, and this severely reduces feeling in toes and feet. Circulation problems will also impair the body’s ability to heal, so toenail cutting can have serious implications if it goes wrong.

A tiny cut to the skin may go unnoticed and this leads to infections such as diabetic ulcers, sores and fungal issues. Of course, this can happen to non-diabetics as well, but for sufferers the healing process will be harder. It’s always easier for someone else to do the cutting so leave this to your podiatrist.

Toenail Fungus

This unpleasant condition makes nails brittle, discoloured and smelly. They also get thicker and the edges crumble. It’s a contagious infection so it can easily spread to other toes and indeed people if you’re not scrupulous with hygiene.

Your podiatrist can safely cut your nails and remove fungus without spreading it. They can also prescribe antifungal creams and sprays to help the nail heal.

Ingrown Toenails

This occurs when the corners or edges of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin. It usually affects the big toe and can be very painful. Poor cutting technique, injury or badly fitting shoes can cause the problem.

Your podiatrist will safely cut and shape the nail to ease the problem and even remove it altogether if necessary. Don’t leave this untreated as it can lead to nasty infections.

Toenail Care in London

For pain-free toes, talk to the experienced professionals in one of our London foot clinics.

Contact Feet By Pody or book online.