How to clip long thickened toenails

Updated April 17, 2017

While long toenails are the result of not trimming your nails often enough, overly thick toenails can be the result of many different things, including too-tight shoes, a skin condition, fungal infection or injury -- all making trimming difficult. There are, however, a few simple steps that can ease your frustration when it comes to grooming your overgrown toenails, and you can be sporting open-toe shoes or sandals in no time.

Soak your feet in warm water, either in a bowl or bathtub, for about 10 minutes. The warm water will soften the nails, making them easier to cut. Remove your feet after 10 minutes and pat dry with a towel.

Lay newspaper on the floor where you intend to cut your nails. The paper will catch the clippings that you cut off, allowing for an easy clean-up.

File the surface of your toenails immediately after drying with a nail file or emery board. File away at the top of each of your nails so that the nail is thinned near the edge. This will make cutting the nail easier and cut down on the elbow grease that is needed later on.

Cut each nail using either a podiatry-grade or barrel spring toenail clipper. These clippers are extra long and made of stainless steel. The cutting blade is also perpendicular, giving the clipper more strength when it comes to tackling large thick nails. Start cutting at the corner of each toenail, moving along the nail in short staccato cuts so that you don't splinter the nail.


If you are still unable to clip your nails using a large specially made toenail clipper, consult a podiatrist.


Do not round out the corners of your toenails. All of your nails should be cut straight across, without round edges; a rounded edge can lead to an ingrown toenail.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm water
  • Towel
  • Podiatry-grade toenail clipper or barrel spring toenail clipper
  • Nail file
  • Emery board
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About the Author

Jayme Richards has been writing since 2005, and also works in radio. His writing has been published in a variety of university newspapers, such as "The Uniter" and "The Projector." Richards has a diploma in creative communications from Red River College in Winnipeg and a joint degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg.