Note: Almond Nails is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

How To Cut Toenails That Curl [And Why They Curl To Begin With]

If you’ve noticed your toenails are curling; naturally, you may be concerned about how to cut them. Besides, you don’t want to cause any issue or worsen the curling further. But how do you do this properly? Here is what you need to do!

So, how do you cut toenails that curl? To cut your curling toenail(s), soak your feet in warm water (and perhaps a foot soak) until the nails are soft (10-15 minutes). Dry your nails with a towel. From there, with specialized nail clippers, clip in small sections until they’re even. Finish up by smoothing out any jagged edges with a nail file.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always give you perfect toenails. Sometimes, for whatever reason, your toenails happen to curve.

And that can make it more difficult to have the best-looking and healthiest toenails possible.

Particularly when it’s painful.

So, let us now delve much deeper into curling toenails, why they arise, the process of cutting, and how you can prevent curling in the future.

So stick around – your toenails could depend on it!

Why Do My Toenails Curl?

Toenails curl for many reasons. It could be the result of an ingrown nail or pincer nail. Or it could be because of genetics, infection, or cutting your toenails improperly. Occasionally, it could be something more serious, such as in response to a health condition or medications, that course abnormality to the nails.

If you’ve noticed your nails curling, there’s a good chance that you’re very concerned.

After all, when things don’t grow correctly, there can be pain involved.

Or you may just be worried about the way that it looks.

It’s not unusual, and it’s something that can be concerning.

However, the causes are almost always something relatively minor.

So you can relax!

First, look at how your nails are curling. That can separate the different causes.

Nails That Curl Up

For nails that curl up, you’re likely dealing with an infection or the aftermath of an injury.

However, it may all just be down to genetics.

Nails That Curl Inward

But, if your nails are curled inward, then that may be a completely different problem.

These issues could be ingrown nails, pincer nails, or simply clipping your nails inappropriately!

Again, as you can see, most of these are relatively simple causes that can be easily handled. Knowing the cause is half of the battle!

Nails That Curl Outward

Toenails curling outward are most commonly caused by toenails thickening because of an infection, often fungal, though sometimes bacterial.

Most adults are going to have this happen at some point in their life.

This causes the nails to thicken, often become discolored, and begin to curl upwards.

If this is caused by an infection, you’ll probably see other signs of it, as well.

This includes the previous symptoms, as well as your nails, becoming brittle or crumbly, and perhaps having a foul smell to them.

Luckily, for a fungus, this is easily cured!

There are plenty of great over-the-counter remedies for toenail fungal infections, and you should be able to fix it without a doctor.

If it’s another type of infection, a course of antibiotics may be necessary, or perhaps an antibiotic cream.

But it’s still nothing too serious, though you may need to see a doctor.

This type of nail curling may also be caused by injury.

Since this will also include nail thickening while curling, it can be a bit difficult to tell the difference between the effects of an injury and a fungus.

If you suspect injury is the cause, a trip to the doctor is in order.

Though rarer, occurring in only one person out of 50,000, Nail patella syndrome (or NPS for short) can also cause curling of the nails.

More commonly seen in fingernails than toenails, the curling is likely not the reason you’ll go to the doctor since many other medical problems are involved with this problem.

If you have reason to suspect you have this, don’t wait to treat it at home and find out. This condition may cause kidney damage. Go to a doctor straight away.

Nails That Curl At The Sides

Nails curled at the sides? There are three main causes for this. While none of them are particularly fun, they’re usually not a sign of something serious.

These causes are pincer nails, ingrown nails, and incorrect clipping.

Pincer nails are going to be the most serious problem here and the ones that will have the most noticeable inward curl.

Left untreated, they can cause ingrown nails or nails that form almost a full circle.

This problem is more common in people with certain health problems, such as a fungal disease or a tumor near the nail bed.

However, you may also notice this if you have an autoimmune disease, take certain medications (including beta-blockers), or have a history of pincer nails in your family.

Ingrown Nails

Ingrown nails are another cause, and they can happen to anyone. An ingrown nail is when the nail begins to grow into the skin itself.

This often causes pain, inflammation, and even infection. While mild cases can be dealt with at home, some ingrown nails require a doctor’s help.

Nails That Curl Down

One final cause that you should know about: If your toenails curve down, that could be a sign of serious problems.

This includes heart and lung issues.

If you’re feeling poorly or have noticed other symptoms along with this, you should go to the doctor.

If you can’t find another reason for your nails to curl, you may want to see a doctor to be sure.

Better safe than sorry!

How Do You Cut A Curved Toenail?

Make sure that you’re using toenail clippers, not fingernail clippers. Soak your feet for ten to fifteen minutes to soften nails. Dry thoroughly, then cut straight across. Use small cuts, not big ones. Don’t round off the corners.

Knowing how to cut curled toenails properly can help stop them from curling any further or keep them from becoming ingrown.

Because of this, it’s important that you be sure that you are cutting them correctly.

Even small mistakes have the possibility of causing problems later on.

So take your time when cutting your toenails, and don’t rush things.

Get The Right Tools

First, make sure that you’re using the right tools for the job.

You should have toenail clippers ready, not fingernail clippers.

Clippers made for fingernails just aren’t strong enough to get the job done.

You should also be sure that your toenail clippers are sharp. Occasionally, as they dull, you’ll need to buy a new pair of them.

New Huing Podiatrist Toenail Clippers, Professional Thick & Ingrown Toe Nail Clippers for Men & Seniors,Pedicure Clippers Toenail Cutters, Super Sharp Curved Blade Grooming Tool
  • 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.


Second, soak your feet in warm water. This can help soften your toenails, making them easier to cut.

This is particularly true for people with thick toenails.

If you have a favorite type of foot soak, you can use that.

Or you can just use warm water.

Either way, aim for ten to fifteen minutes of soaking. Then, dry your feet thoroughly. It’s time to get trimming!

Time To Trim

Set yourself up for success by keeping your clips small. You don’t want to make big clips that take off a lot of toenails at once.
Instead, smaller clips are the right way.

You do want to make sure that they’re even, though. Keep them straight as possible, whatever you do! But don’t worry too much.

Smooth With A File

Any jagged edges left can be smoothed with a file afterward.

One thing not to do? Round off the corners of your toenails.

This can cause your toenails to become ingrown, which is something someone with curling toenails wants to avoid.

The edges of your toenails should be close to a ninety-degree angle: the less curve there, the better.

How Do I Stop My Toenails From Curling?

First, treat any medical conditions that might be causing your nails to curl. This is particularly important for those suspecting health issues. You can also see a podiatrist who can help with pincer nails, ingrown nails, and other possible problems. Otherwise, ensure you are cutting your nails with appropriate tools and with the right techniques.

Get A Health Check

The first thing to do when you have curling toenails is to consider whether it may be caused by a health issue.

Lung and heart conditions are two of which can cause toenails to curl.

If your nails curl downward and appear clubbed, this is a possible reason that shouldn’t be ignored. Go to your doctor as soon as you can!

See A Podiatrist

Pincer nails and ingrown nails are, while less serious, also worth a trip to the doctor.

In this case, a podiatrist.

These foot specialists can help you determine what is wrong and the best way to fix it.

This is the right place to be for both pincer nails and more severe ingrown nails!

Home Remedies

You can also do some things at home to prevent curling. If your ingrown nail is relatively minor, you can probably take care of it using home remedies.

(However, if these don’t work, you will need to see a podiatrist; it’s better not to wait!)

Taking care when cutting your nails can prevent problems later on.

Be sure that you’re using small clips when cutting them, and only use sturdy toenail clippers for the job.

You should also avoid curving the edge of the toenails and avoid cutting them too short. Keep the edges angular and the length a bit long.

What Is A “Pincer nail,”; Do I Have It?

Pincer toenails are when your nails begin to curve inwards. In severe cases, the edges of your toenails may meet, forming a “tunnel” of sorts out of your nails. These can be caused by many things, including a fungal infection, medications, tumors/cysts, autoimmune problems/diseases, or a family history of the problem. A podiatrist can treat them, though they may return later.

One of the more common causes of curled toenails is pincer toenails.

This problem is one that is visible, particularly if it’s been untreated for a while.

In the beginning, the edges of the nail will begin to curl in. Sometimes, one will curl in more than the other; other times, they will curl simultaneously.

If left alone, your toenail may form a sort of “tunnel” once the two sides get close enough to one another or even begin to touch each other.

If you’ve noticed your toenails beginning to form this “tunnel” look, then pincer nails may be the reason why.

There are many causes here. Like with other problems related to toenails, it could be a fungal infection causing it. Medications, too, can make pincer nails more likely.

Beta-blockers, in particular, have this problem.

If you have tumors or cysts near the nail bed, they can cause nails to grow improperly, too.

Those with autoimmune problems may also be more likely to have pincer nails crop up.

Lastly, you may just have bad genetics here. If a parent had pincer toenails, you might have them, too.

Your best bet for treatment is to go to a podiatrist.

They can help you correct the problem and give you some tips to prevent the problem from becoming serious.

However, you will likely have to deal with the issue for the rest of your life. It’s not particularly dangerous, but there is no complete fix for the problem.

Can Ingrown Toenails Cause Curling?

Ingrown toenails can cause curving. As ingrown toenails press into the side of the toe, they can cause the nail to curve. The best treatment is to fix the ingrown toenail, whether with a home remedy or a trip to the podiatrist.

Have an ingrown toenail? If so, you may be in danger of having curled toenails.

Because ingrown nails are defined by their habit of growing into the skin to the side of the nail, they may cause noticeable curving of the nail itself.

There are ways to combat this, though!

First, you can try to avoid getting ingrown toenails in the first place.

Wear shoes that fit properly, clip your toenails straight across, don’t clip a curve into the edge of your nails, and don’t cut them too short.

Keeping these tips in mind, you can avoid the problem before it begins.

Too late for that? If you already have an ingrown nail, you have two options: Do it yourself, or ask a podiatrist for help.

If your ingrown toenail isn’t bad or infected, you can probably solve it with the well-known “dental floss trick,” a home remedy that uses dental floss slid beneath the nail to ease it out of the skin.

If your toenail is too much to handle at home, or if it is infected, let a podiatrist worry about it.

They can fix an ingrown nail, no matter how bad it has become.

They’ll also be able to provide something for any kind of infection you may have.


Toenails can curl for all sorts of reasons, as we have seen here today.

Nevertheless, your approach to cutting should remain the same.

That being said, it’s certainly a good idea to investigate why your nails are curling, to begin with, and proactively do your best to prevent them, If you can, going forward.