Its supposed to be something we know right? Do you remember having a lesson in cutting your toenails correctly? Most people admit they don’t actually know he correct way to cut their nails so there is no wonder it is our most asked question at West Berkshire Foot Clinic.

Cutting your toenails correctly is one of the main ways to prevent damage and ingrowing toenails. So, what is the right way and what are you supposed to do if you can’t reach your feet or the nails are too thick to cut with scissors?


  • You should always cut your toenails after a bath or shower. Not only will they be clean and prevent any infections but they will also be softer an easier to cut. Finding the correct tools is the best start. Some people can use nail scissors but most toenails are too thick to cut with nail scissors. Try a pair of clippers like the ones below.
Nail clippers
  • Cut your nails straight across avoiding curving the nails at the edges and not following the shape of the toe. Your toenail should have 2 sharp-ish points in the corners. Do not cut these off – just file them gently if they are too sharp with the use of an emery board.
Cutting toenails correctly

You do not need to cut any other shape into your toenail include a “v” in the middle of the nail. This is an old wives tale and doesn’tstop ingrowing toenails!

  • You should cut them long enough to still see a small amount of the white tip of your nail. If you cant see this – you have cut them too short. This is usually in line with the end of your toe. If there is any debris under the nail it is best not to use any sharp tools to remove this. Use an old toothbrush whilst in the bath or shower to remove this debris.
  • You should then gently file the ends of the nail with an emery board to avoid rough edges which may catch on socks and hosiery.
Filing corners of the nails

Don’t forget to wash the equipment you use in warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly before treating them!

What to do if you need help?

If you struggle to reach your feet, or seeing properly to cut your nails is becoming difficult you aren’t alone! I say to my patients that as you get older your legs get longer and your arms get shorter! Any qualified Podiatrist registered with HCPC will be able to help you with this.

If you are caring for someone with diabetes it is best to have them assessed by a HCPC podiatrist before helping them with their nail care.

If you have any pain in your toes around the nail, something just doesn’t look right or you are struggling to cut them due to thickness or possible fungal infections then please contact us where we can assess and treat any problems.

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