How to cut toenails properly

Photo of toenails being cut
PantherMedia / AndreyPopov

Many people will have an ingrown toenail at some point in their lives. Using the right technique to cut your toenails can help prevent this problem, though.

It’s important to make sure that you cut your toenails straight across, leaving them long enough so that the corners lie loosely against the skin at the sides.

In other words, don't trim your toenails too short, don't round the edges, and also don't try to cut the toenails into a pointy V-shape.

Illustration: The correct cutting technique – as described in the article

Toenails: The correct cutting technique

Trim your nails using nail scissors, nail clippers or a nail file. It's best to choose the tool that you're most confident using.

If you have difficulty reaching your feet with your hands or safely using nail scissors, get help from someone you know or seek professional assistance. Professionals who do pedicures make sure that your nails are cut correctly, and they take care of the rest of your foot, too. Health insurers don't cover the costs of pedicures.

If you notice abnormal changes on your feet or have health problems like diabetes, it's best to see your doctor about it. He or she may be able to refer you to a podiatrist (a foot specialist).

Eekhof JA, Van Wijk B, Knuistingh Neven A, van der Wouden JC. Interventions for ingrowing toenails. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012; (4): CD001541.

Heidelbaugh JJ, Lee H. Management of the ingrown toenail. Am Fam Physician 2009; 79(4): 303-308.

Ruck H. Handbuch für die medizinische Fußpflege. Stuttgart: Thieme; 2012.

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. informedhealth.org can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

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Please note that we do not provide individual advice on matters of health. You can read about where to find help and support in Germany in our information “How can I find self-help groups and information centers?

Created on June 28, 2018
Next planned update: 2021

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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