reference presentation true The Foot and Ankle Knowledgebase, L.L.C., L.L.C., L.L.C. 2000 en-US Toe Nail Trimming | Recommendations and products toe nail trimmer,toe nail trimming,information for patients about how to trim toe nails,nail trimmers,nail nippers,nail cutters, propper toe nail trimming Recommendations for toe nail trimming - part of the Foot and Ankle Knowledge Base.

Toe Nail Trimming

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Trimming toe nails can be performed in a number of ways; straight across or deep down into the corners. Most important is the need to effectively trim the entire nail not leaving any of the remain nail in place to subsequently cause an ingrown nail.


Improper trimming of the nail can result in a number of foot problems, first and foremost ingrown nails. Most ingrown nails (paronychia) result from partial or incomplete trimming of the nail. A common mistake is to trim the nail to the corner and tear the nail away. Tearing the nail often leaves a small spike of nail along the outer margin of the nail. Slowly the nail continues to grow and push the spike forward. The spike begins to act like a foreign object, just like a splinter. As the nail grows the splinter becomes increasingly imbedded in the skin resulting in an infection. Surgical correction of an ingrown nail is usually a matter of removing the little spike that's causing both pain and a foreign body reaction (infection).

Who gets ingrown nails and why? You have to wonder why the most common ingrown nail patients are teenage boys and pregnant women. Teenage boys aren't particularly concerned about hygiene. They're also prone to more trauma to the nail from sports. Pregnant woman find that with each month of their pregnancy their arms get shorter and their legs get longer resulting an an inability to care for their feet.

The key to successful nail trimming is to be sure you trim the nail regularly and completely. Use a nail cutter with a curved, pointed tip.  Be sure to round the edges using a double ended nail file, checking for the little spikes at the edge of the nail. Smooth the edges of the nail to prevent the nail from catching on hose or socks. The rate of growth of the nail is very slow so that once every 4-6 weeks should be sufficient to keep the nails well trimmed and healthy. When trimming the nails, take the opportunity to check between the toes for fungal infections. Fungal infections of the skin will slowly infect the nail resulting in toe nail fungus.

Causes and contributing factors

Additional contributing factors to ingrown nails include a tight toe box on the shoe, trauma to the nail and diseases of the nail.

Author(s) and date

Dr. Jeffrey OsterThis article was written by medical director Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM.  

Competing Interests - None

Peer Reviewed - This article is peer reviewed by an open source editorial board.  Your comments and suggestions to improve this paper are appreciated.

Cite this article as: Oster, Jeffrey. Toe Nail Trimming.

Most recent article update: December 22, 2015.

Creative Commons License  Toe Nail Trimming by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.