How to Properly Trim Toenails

Written by ehow health editor
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Email

Trimming toenails properly is important for avoiding painful foot problems. Ingrown toenails, a common and very painful problem, are caused by not cutting the toenails straight across or cutting them too short. Here is how to properly trim toenails to avoid common problems.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Soak feet before cutting toenails to avoid splintering and breaking the nail. A perfect time to trim toenails is immediately after a bath or soak in a spa or hot tub.

  2. 2

    Avoid trimming toenails too short. Instead of traditional toenail clippers, try using a pair of large bandage scissors. They give better control so the nail is not cut too short.

  3. 3

    Cut toenails straight across when you trim them. Never round them to match the shape or curve of the end of the toe. Rounding toenails is an invitation to ingrown toenails and other painful problems.

  4. 4

    File the corners a bit if desired to keep them from being sharp and catching on things, but just file a bit. Filing too much and making them very round encourages the nail to curve downward into the toe, which can be very painful.

  5. 5

    Combat dry skin around the toenails and on the feet by finishing up with a small amount of baby oil around each toenail and a good lotion or cream applied to the rest of each foot.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember, do not cut toenails too short. Longer is always better. The nail should lie fairly flat on the toes, especially at the outer edges.
  • If you have diabetes or any other circulatory problems with the feet, proper foot care is extremely important. You are at greater risk for developing complications from an ingrown toenail or infection from a sore or cut on the foot or around the toenail. Consult your physician for any problems, and consider using a podiatrist for foot care.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.