How to Cut Your Toenails


  1. Have clean and dry nails. Cutting wet nails can make them jagged.
  2. Cut nails straight across until they no longer extend over your finger or toe, and that they don't show any white. For fingernails, the finished nail should follow the contour of the "quick."
  3. Use a nail file to make sure the edges of the nail are smooth. Jagged nails can catch on clothes, socks, and pantyhose and potentially cause nails to tear or break.
  4. Nails should be slightly square or oval and not pointed. This will prevent them from breaking.
  5. Nails can weaken if you file too low into the corners and sides.
  6. File gently in one long stroke, from the side to the center of the nail.
  7. The ideal length that suits most hands is just over the fingertip.DO NOT CUT INTO THE QUICK.
  8. Don't bite your nails, it will create ingrown finger and toe nails.


  • There are special nail cutters made just for toenails. While a normal nail cutter is slightly curved, a toenail cutter goes straight across so as to reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails.
  • You can also buff nails to make them shiny smooth.
  • Massage in a cuticle cream to keep cuticles healthy and moisturized.
  • If your nails are very brittle, soaking them in water beforehand will soften them up. You can also cut them right after bathing.
  • Do apply hand cream every time you wash your hands. The oils in the cream will seal moisture into your nails.
  • Wear rubber gloves when doing the dishes because main cause of soft nails is exposure to water, so
  • If you have very weak nails, try painting your base coat and nail polish under the tip of your nails to give them extra strength.
  • You can dry the wet nails instantly by plunging them into ice cold water.
  • In order to repair a split nail, tear a little paper from a teabag or coffee filter paper and glue it over the tear with nail glue.
  • Once it's dry, buff until smooth, and then apply your polish.
  • To avoid mud getting into nails during gardening or messy work, drag your nails over a bar of soap. The undersides of your nails will fill up with soap, which means dirt won't be able to get in.
  • Use a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean ink and stains from your finger tips.
  • Do not file your nails immediately after a bath because they are weak at this time and are likely to split.
  • Using a cotton bud (swab) with a pointed end, clean under your nails - it's gentler than scrubbing with a nail brush.
  • Every evening smooth your nails with a nourishing oil or conditioning cream.
  • This well help to seal moisture into your nails and prevent them from flaking and splitting.
  • A great cheap alternative is a tiny drop of olive oil.


  • Don't trim cuticles too much or they will bleed. They are there for a reason: to prevent infection of the nail bed from germs.



  •  The penalty for not cutting your toenails properly is high. Ingrowing toenails hurt, are hard to treat and have a habit of coming back. When a nail starts ingrowing, the side of it cuts into the skin which becomes tender and can get infected. People usually make things worse by attempting DIY surgery with sharp scissors but you could end up with a nasty osteomyelitis (bone infection). If you think your toenail is ingrowing, see your GP or a chiropodist.


  •  We're talking mostly big toe although any toe can (in theory) be affected. There's an increased risk of ingrowing toenails if you're born with involuted nails that naturally curve into the toe, if you wear tight shoes (most people), if you have a fungal infection on your toe and/or if you wear polyester socks (sweaty).


  •  Beaumont says that we don't look after our feet properly. Our feet, he argues, are usually out of sight, out of mind, which is a shame as the best thing for them is to let them roam freely without socks and shoes. Ingrowing toenails, said a research paper in the British Medical Journal in the 1960s, are a problem only of civilised societies.


  •  If you have poor eyesight or are so pregnant you can't see your feet, get someone else to cut your toenails. People with diabetes have to be especially careful as they're more at risk from a careless nick in the skin around the toenail getting infected.


  •  In the nail scissors versus clipper debate, the latter win hands down. Scissors are more likely to twist and rip nails and make them jagged. There's no advantage to soaking toenails before cutting them as wet nails are prone to tearing. Likewise there's no point in moisturising your toenails. It will have the same effect as moisturising a rhino's horn. Nail polish is optional.

Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    anca (Friday, 02 October 2009 07:15)

    good job doctor, very interesting topic this one as many people really don't know how to cut their nails properly...

  • #2

    TARIK TORKI (Friday, 02 October 2009 07:17)


  • #3

    Dee (Friday, 08 April 2011 05:27)

    Thanks a lot Doctor, this topic is really helpful and informative. My dad has diabetic feet and now I know how to take care his feet.

  • #4

    Yvonne Moretz (Tuesday, 19 April 2011 16:09)

    My dad is a diabetic and all of his toenails are split all the way down the middel of each toe and they are very soft. How can we help him fix this problem?
    Thank you,
    Yvonne Moretz