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Toenail Trimming Tips for People with Diabetes

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Unfortunately, more and more people look for the answer to the question “How should diabetics cut their toenails?”, as millions of new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year. Such a seemingly trivial procedure as trimming your toenails may turn into a difficult quest if your toenails are afflicted with onychomycosis or any other infection provoked by this disease. So, extra caution and safety measures should be taken if you’re dealing with diabetic toenails.

Should a diabetic get a pedicure after all? Of course, they should. But all diabetics would be well-advised to refrain from trimming their toenails at beauty salons and regularly give themselves a safe at-home pedicure.

Here are some simple recommendations that will help you do this the right way.

Find the right tool

Lots of people use the same scissors for cutting their toenails as for their fingernails. And that’s the mistake you want to avoid in your diabetic nail care routine. Opt for toenail scissors, which are larger, wider, and more durable than their fingernail counterparts. There are also dedicated diabetic nail clippers that enable you to have a better grasp of an instrument and make more appropriate trims.

Sanitise properly

Everything that comes in contact with your toenail should be 100% safe. Sanitize your clippers, toenail files, and other foot care tools with rubbing alcohol. Don’t skimp on quality sanitisers since diabetics run significantly higher risks of contracting infections. Getting a UV-C germicidal lamp also might be a good idea if you want to make doubly sure all viruses and bacteria are taken care of.

Don’t soak your feet

Should diabetics soak their feet? Well, that’s another million-dollar question we need to answer.

While many people tend to give their feet a long bath before trimming their toenails, it’s not the safest option for diabetics. Soaking can really make nails more bendable and easy to clip. But at the same time, this procedure may cause your toenails to peel and split and get in the way of a clean cut. So, what you want to do is wash your feet with warm water and antibacterial soap without excessively softening your toenails. Wipe dry with a clean towel and you’re all set to go.

Unfortunately, thickened toenails are commonplace in diabetics. If this is the case, let your problematic toes sit in lukewarm water for 10–15 minutes. Also, note that pedicures and diabetes are not mutually exclusive. So, you can pamper yourself with a relaxing foot bath. For this, add several drops of essential oil (green tea, eucalyptus, or lemongrass) to it. This will also help maximise the antibacterial effect of your foot bath mixture.

Trim the right way

It’s crucial that you know how to cut diabetic toenails properly. Don’t attempt to clip your toenail in one sweep. Aim for two clean cuts without ripping deep into the nail bed. No jerky moves or haste. Avoid cuts and abrasion at any cost if you want to safeguard yourself from more serious consequences.

Always cut your toenail straight across, bit by bit. Don’t cut too short and resist the temptation to round the corners. Not only will this technique prevent your toenails from splitting but also help minimise the chance of ingrown nails.

Give it a gentle file

Finish your toenail care routine by gently smoothing sharp edges. Even if your cuts are smooth and there are no visible jagged edges, file down and buff each nail to eliminate the risk of your nail snagging and splitting. So, how should diabetics cut their toenails? Now you know the answer to this question. Yet, if you suspect some serious condition, have foot ulcers, or aren’t confident in your toenail-trimming skills, be sure to visit a professional podiatrist.


Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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