Taking care of your toenails is essential, not only for how they look and feel but for hygiene too. And a major part of this is keeping them properly trimmed back. But how regularly do you need to cut them, and what happens if you don’t? Here is everything you ought to know.
So, how often should you cut your toenails? On average, you should look to cut your toenails once every six to eight weeks. However, the amount of time recommended is subjective and will depend on factors such as nail health, how quickly your nails grow, and the length of nails you prefer. Nevertheless, every six to eight weeks should keep them hygienic, clean, and comfortable.
In reality, this is something you are going to want to do somewhat regularly.
For some of you reading, you may even want to trim more frequently than those recommended above.
But that’s a good schedule for the average person.
Besides, we are all very busy, and this is something that you need to purposefully dedicate some time to do.
But why would you even want to do so?
Let’s find out!
What Happens If You Don’t Cut Your Toenails?
They become dirty and unkempt. This may lead to toenail or foot fungus, as well as foot odor. They may become unsightly, to the point where you would not want to wear particular shoes or take your shoes and socks off in front of others. It may also cause ingrown nails and other injuries involving broken skin, which may result in an infection. You would be highly uncomfortable and would find shoes downright painful at times.
We’ve all, at least once, put off clipping our toenails a bit too long and ended up with velociraptor-like results.
It’s nothing pretty, but it happening rarely is unlikely to have any real problems long-term.
We’re only human, after all.
Even if we currently look like something out of Jurassic Park when we take our shoes off.
But what would happen if we just stopped clipping our toenails altogether? That’s when things get messy.
Dirty And Unkempt
First, you would find that it wouldn’t take long for your toenails to become dirty and unkempt-looking.
This is because longer toenails make it easier to trap dirt and debris under and around them.
Without trimming, you would also lose the straight edge that makes toenails look neat and orderly.
You would be left with a jagged, uneven mess.
So you would probably also stop wearing open-toed shoes and stop taking your shoes off in front of others.
Who wants people to see them like that?
Long toenails can often cause health problems.
Primarily toenail and even foot fungus.
Both like to hide and grow beneath long toenails.
This can cause toenail thickening and discoloration, as well as other problems.
Now your toenails aren’t just dirty; they’re thick, misshapen, and discolored.
And they’re smelly, too.
Because both foot fungus and toenail fungus can cause your feet to take on an awful odor.
Risk of Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails may also become more prevalent because your toenails will soon fun out of places to grow.
So they’ll start turning sideways and growing into your skin.
This can cause pain and infection; if it gets bad, you may need antibiotics.
And those velociraptor claws aren’t just for looks!
You can very easily actually hurt yourself if your toenails have grown long and sharp. This, too, can cause an infection.
Uncomfort And Pain
Do you like shoes? You won’t if this is happening.
Eventually, you’ll have enough problems and enough toenail length that you won’t be able to comfortably wear shoes, even when you need to.
This might mean not being able to go places that require shoes and having to spend much of your time at home.
In short, it’s better to go ahead and clip your toenails regularly.
What Should You Cut Your Toenails With?
You should only cut your toenails with manicure scissors or nail clippers. Anything else may be dangerous. The clippers for your fingernails should not be used; get toenail clippers, if possible. Any tool that you use should be clean and in good shape.
When you clip your toenails, you need to be sure that you’re using the right equipment.
Trying to use something that isn’t made for clipping toenails can harm your toenails, break your tool, or even hurt you if you’re not careful.
Before you sit down to get to clipping, you should always have everything available that you’ll need. It isn’t for safety, but it is a huge time saver!
There are only two types of tools that you should use to clip your toenails: Manicure scissors, made specifically for this type of job, or clippers.
In this case, we do mean toenail clippers.
While they look similar, you shouldn’t count on your standard clippers when it comes to managing your toenails.
They’re made for fingernails, which are thinner and less tough than your toenails are.
So save them for your fingernails, and invest in a good set of toenail clippers for your feet.
The following ones below, from Amazon, are ideal:
- Podiatrist Toenail Clippers: New sharp curved blade specially designs for ingrown & thick nails to make it easy to cut.
- Sharp & Durable: Podiatrist professional toenail clippers are made of high quality surgical grade stainless steel for rust and durability.
- Upgraded Double Spring: Upgraded no spring or single spring to double spring for long-lasting use. Extend its service life.
- Updated Handle Nail Nipper: made with ABS material that is non-slip & softer, use an ergonomic handle for comfort, firm grip & easy cutting.
- One Year Promise: Free refund or replacement during the promise period.
You might come across other nail-trimming tools.
If you do, be careful what you’re using.
There are a few gadgets that you might consider, though you should speak with a professional first.
But there are other things that are dangerous.
Knives, scissors (other than manicure), canine nail trimming tools, and similar products should never be used under any circumstance.
One last requirement for your tools: They should be clean and in working order.
You can thoroughly sanitize metal tools by boiling them for fifteen minutes.
However, you’ll probably be fine just washing them to get rid of visible dirt and debris before wiping them down with some alcohol.
Make sure that your clippers or scissors are still sharp and aren’t damaged. If they are, it’s time to replace them.
How To Cut Your Toenails
Use toenail clippers. Be sure to clip every six to eight weeks, depending on how fast your nails grow. Only cut dry nails to prevent tearing. Clip straight across, not curved. Use small snips when clipping, not big ones. Leave nails a little long. Finish by filing smoothly.
Your toenails are only as healthy as the treatment you give them. If the only time you worry about them is when you’re giving them a hurried, rough clipping, then they’re not going to look or feel nice.
Luckily, clipping toenails the proper way isn’t hard.
If it’s been six to eight weeks, depending on how fast your nails grow, it’s time to get started.
Don’t put it off!
Get Your Tools
Before beginning, be sure that you have the right tools, as we discussed above.
You need either toenail clippers or manicure scissors and nothing else.
Ensure Your Feet Are Dry
Some people have been taught that it’s best to clip toenails after they’ve showered when they’re wet and softer.
While that might be something worth considering if you had a bad fungus or other problems with thick toenails, that’s something you want to avoid here.
Only clip dry toenails. Otherwise, you might rip or tear them, causing painful, uneven toenails.
Clip Straight Across
When you clip, you’re going to want to clip straight across, not at an angle.
Unlike fingernails, you’re not trying to curve your toenails.
In fact, curving the edges makes them more likely to become ingrown.
Always cut straight across!
Clipping should also be done in small, precise clips, not big, broad ones. This makes mistakes less likely, and more easily fixable.
Do Not Cut Too Deeply
Be sure that you don’t cut your nails down to the quick!
While you don’t want to be able to take down a small, prehistoric herbivore (or larger modern-day paleontologist), you do want to have enough length that you don’t run the risk of ingrown toenails.
And short toenails cause just that. Instead, aim for a length of one to two millimeters.
After all of that is finished, you just need to file everything smoothly.
Use an emery board, and always be sure to move it in only one direction.
Don’t run it back and forth!
Run it in one direction, pick it up, and repeat until you’ve smoothed out any jagged or rough bits.
Repeat on your other foot.
What Should You Do If You Cut Your Toenails Too Short?
Clean and dry your toenail. Apply Neosporin, or another antiseptic, to the area. Bandage, if necessary. Soaking in very warm water with Epsom salt may ease the pain. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, if necessary.
Sometimes accidents just happen. Despite your best intentions, something goes wrong, and now you’re left to clean up the mess.
This is true for many things, including clipping your toenails.
At least once in your life, you’re probably going to make a mistake or two when you’re clipping your toenails.
And accidentally clipping off too much is very likely to be at least one of them.
While it’s common, it’s still both annoying and, often, painful. But there are ways to help prevent any further pain from your toenail.
Clean And Treat
Before anything else, make sure that your toenail, toe, and foot are all clean and dry.
If they aren’t, you should go ahead and wash them with soap and warm water.
After that, you can carefully dry off with a clean towel.
Then, apply your favorite antiseptic cream or ointment, such as Neosporin to prevent infection.
Finish with a bandage.
If you’re still dealing with pain from this, there are some great at-home pain relief options!
You can start off with a nice foot soak.
Fill a basin or the tub with very warm (but comfortable) water, then add Epsom salt.
Soak for twenty to thirty minutes.
If you’re in a hurry, even a fifteen-minute soak should provide some relief.
After, redress your toe, and take some OTC pain relievers.
You should be back to normal in no time!
When Should You Not Cut Toenails?
Toenails should not be clipped while wet, too soon after a previous clipping, when you do not have the proper tools, when your toenails are too thick, or when certain medical conditions (such as diabetes) make it dangerous to clip them.
So, we’ve covered why it’s important for you to clip your nails. But is there a time when you shouldn’t cut your toenails? Actually, yes. There is.
And there are a few different reasons you might not want to start clipping right now.
If you’re part of one of these categories, it’s probably best to skip the clipping for the moment.
Some might just need time to resolve themselves. Others might need a trip to the store… or even the doctor.
First, if you have wet nails, you shouldn’t clip them.
Whether it’s after a shower, a day at the beach, a dip in a hot tub, or just stepping in a puddle, if your feet are wet, now isn’t the time to cut your nails.
Being wet makes them weaker and makes tears and other damage more likely. Just wait until you’ve dried off, and you should be fine.
After Insufficient Growth
You also need to make sure that the right amount of time has passed since you last clipped your toenails.
There is such a thing as clipping them too much!
For people who clip them every day, there are some serious consequences that can arise. But, even for just clipping more often than the six to eight-week recommendation, you may still be doing damage to your toenails.
You know your body.
When your nails are longer than they need to be, clip, but don’t start too early, and definitely don’t do it every day!
Without The Right Tools/Equipment
It might sound obvious, but some people don’t follow this rule. It’s simple: If you don’t have the right tools and equipment, don’t clip your toenails.
Not particularly complicated, but there will still be people who try to clip their nails with paper-cutting scissors or dog clippers.
Just be sure that you have the appropriate tools. Your toenails will thank you.
With Thick Toenails
Thick toenails can be insanely difficult to clip.
Because of that, you probably shouldn’t jump straight to cutting yours if you’re dealing with thick nails.
Luckily, there’s a way to fix this, so you can give it a try at home.
All you need to do is soak your feet for ten minutes a day! You can also apply Vicks VapoRub to your hard toenails once a day, before bed, putting on cotton socks to sleep in.
With Certain Health Issues
Dealing with diabetes but faced with a toenail that might cause you some broken skin or bleeding when clipped?
You should probably consult your primary care physician.
The same is true if you have other conditions that mean injuries to the feet could cause more drastic consequences than others would.
If in doubt, go to the doctor.
Better safe than sorry.
Every six to eight weeks.
That’s how often you should be looking to cut your toenails.
Assuming that you are not one of those individuals referenced above.
Ultimately, keeping your toenails healthy is all about consistent care. Do this, and you should be keeping issues truly at bay.
Hey – I’m Jemma – a certified nail technician and manicurist with over fifteen years of hands-on industry experience. I created AlmondNails.com to share all that I have learned about the nail industry – from the different types of manicures available, suggestions for wear, recommendations for keeping nails strong and healthy, all the way through to providing the best nail salon tips and practices.