Trimming your toenails may seem like a simple and routine task, but there is a correct way to do it. Improper toenail trimming can lead to complications like ingrown toenails, which can be painful and even require medical attention. If you are unsure how to properly trim your toenails, it’s always a good idea to get help from an experienced podiatrist who’s skilled at assisting patients with their toenail care. Many patients may have issues with their toenails, and those with diabetes must take special care when cutting them.
Proper Techniques for Trimming Toenails
Using the proper techniques for trimming toenails is essential for maintaining healthy feet. Before trimming your toenails, consider the following tips to help you trim them safely and correctly:
- Choose your tools. The first step in trimming your toenails is to choose the right tool. You want to use a pair of toenail clippers rather than fingernail clippers to help prevent your nails from cracking or becoming ingrown. Additionally, ensure that your clippers are sharp and clean since dull clippers can crush the nail, making it more likely to become ingrown, and dirty clippers can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infection.
- Soften your nails. Trimming your toenails after a bath or shower when they are soft is the best time, as it makes them easier to cut and reduces the risk of splitting or cracking. The warm water also helps to soften the surrounding skin, making it easier to trim the nails without causing any discomfort.
- Begin to trim. Once your nails are soft and you have the right tools, cut them straight across. Do not curve the corners or dig into the sides of the nail, as this can cause the nail to grow into the skin and lead to an ingrown toenail. Keep the nails at a moderate length, and avoid cutting them too short or leaving them too long, as both can lead to problems. Your toenails should never bleed when you cut them.
- Smooth the edges. After trimming your toenails, use a file to smooth any rough edges or sharp corners. This will prevent the nails from catching on socks or shoes and reduce the risk of ingrown toenails.
- Don’t forget to moisturize. Moisturizing your feet after trimming your toenails is just as important as the actual trimming process. It helps keep your toenails and surrounding skin hydrated and soft. Dry, brittle toenails are also more prone to splitting and breaking, which can lead to further complications. Always avoid applying lotion between your toes since this can promote bacterial growth.
Possible Complications of Improper Toenail Trimming
Ingrown toenails are one of the most common complications of improper toenail trimming. They occur when the edge of the nail grows into the skin, causing pain, swelling, redness, and even infection. There are several things to avoid when trimming your toenails that can help you maintain the health and safety of your feet and toes, including:
- Cutting your nails too frequently, as this can damage the nail bed and increase the risk of infection
- Wearing tight shoes or socks that compress the toes and cause pressure on the nails
- Not keeping your feet clean and dry may lead to fungal infections and other problems
- Sharing tools with others can spread fungal infections and other foot-related problems
When to See a Podiatrist
While most toenail problems can heal on their own or be treated at home, there are times when it is best to see a podiatrist. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following signs:
- Severe pain, swelling, or redness around the nail
- Drainage or pus coming from the nail or surrounding skin
- Chronic or recurring ingrown toenails
- Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
- A thickening or discoloration of the nail that does not improve with treatment
A podiatrist will evaluate your toenails and provide appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics, removal of the nail, or other procedures.
Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists Go the Distance for You
When you have a foot or an ankle problem, you want a team of specialists who will give you clear answers about your condition, treat you with state-of-the-art equipment, and provide you with a treatment plan that directly addresses your specific issue. Our podiatrists understand the importance of healthy feet, and with their education and training, they provide you with the best options for a speedy recovery.
The award-winning podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists are recognized across the country for their depth of knowledge, treatment options, and outstanding service. If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, contact us at 512-328-8900, or take advantage of our online appointment scheduling.