Did you know your toenails and fingernails start growing before you’re born, and they never stop? On average, toenails grow about 1.6 millimeters per month, and that means you need to clip them regularly.

And while clipping toenails might seem like an insignificant task, there’s actually a right way to do it. Poorly trimmed toenails can cause painful broken nails and ingrown toenails. And if you have diabetes, poorly trimmed toenails could put your overall health at serious risk.

In many ways, good foot health starts with proper toenail trimming techniques. We offer toenail trimming services at Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute in South Ogden, Utah. As a leading podiatrist, David B. Glover, DPM, FACFAS, is here to help you learn the right way to trim your nails.

Why proper toenail clipping matters

Toenails that are too long, too short, or cut incorrectly can hurt your feet and overall health.

Toenails that are cut too short can cause ingrown nails, which is when the corner of a nail grows into the skin around it. Ingrown toenails can be quite painful, and they can put you at risk of infection. Long toenails can catch on socks, shoes, or blankets and rip. And sharp nails can cut areas they come in contact with.

If you have diabetes, these scratches and cuts can be particularly dangerous. You might not notice the injuries at first due to diabetic nerve damage. And, because diabetes can cause poor circulation, the wounds may heal slowly and end up getting infected.

How to clip your toenails

You might not give trimming your toenails much thought. It’s a personal hygiene task that needs to be done, but it’s important to do it correctly to avoid painful foot complications.

1. Start with clean feet

Wash your feet with a gentle soap and rinse. Then, dry your feet thoroughly. Pay special attention to the spaces between your toes to make sure all of your skin is dry.

2. Use clean, sharp clippers

Always use clean, sharp tools to trim your nails. You can use toenail clippers or nail scissors, based on your personal preferences.

3. Trim your toenails

Trim your toenails straight across. Avoid rounding the corners, as this can increase your risk of getting an ingrown nail. Make sure to cut your nails short enough that they don’t catch on fabrics, but not so short that the ends of the nails feel sensitive.

4. File your nails

Once your nails are clipped, you can file them to smooth out any rough edges. Let your toenails dry completely before you file, and always file in one direction to avoid splintering the nails.

Get in the habit of trimming your toenails every 6-8 weeks or so. Everyone’s nails grow at a slightly different rate, so get in the habit of examining your feet regularly so you know when it’s time to clip your nails again.

If reaching your toes is difficult for you or you’re concerned that you won’t clip your nails properly, ask Dr. Glover and our team about professional toenail trimming. We can clip your nails, and we often combine the service with a full foot exam.

If you have more questions about trimming your toenails, or if you would like to take advantage of our toenail trimming services, call 801-614-2996 or book an appointment online with Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute today.