Slide show: How to trim thickened toenails
Thickened toenails: What causes them?
Your toenails can thicken for many reasons. These include:
- A common skin condition that causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin (psoriasis)
- Tight-fitting shoes
- Fungal infections — as shown in this picture
Among these, a fungal nail infection — onychomycosis (on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis) — is a common cause of thickened toenails.
Soften your toenails by soaking your feet for 10 minutes in warm water. Dry your feet and toenails with a towel. Now you're ready to trim your toenails.
Nail nippers work best. They're lightweight, easy to grip and control, and can be purchased at most drugstores. Nail nippers can be very sharp.
Be careful when using them, especially if you have:
- Poor circulation
- Reduced sensation in your feet
If you have any of these conditions and have questions about trimming your toenails, talk to your doctor.
Take small clips
Starting at the corner of your toenail, take small cuts to prevent splintering. Don't round your toenail at the corner. Instead, cut straight across. This reduces your chance of developing an ingrown toenail.
Make a straight cut
Take small, straight clips all the way across your toenail.
This thickened toenail has been trimmed correctly. The toes next to it need a similar straight cut. After the toenails have been trimmed, gently file the edges with an emery board or nail file. This removes sharp edges or corners that could catch on your socks.
See your doctor if:
- Your thickened toenail embarrasses you
- Your thickened toenail is very painful
- You don't think you can trim your toenails safely on your own
Last Updated Jul 11, 2020