Your toenails are a form of protection for your toes to which you normally don't give much thought. Toenails and fingernails are usually a uniform thickness that can vary from person to person. Thickened toenails are not uncommon, but can pose a problem when it's time for trimming. Home remedies for cutting thick toenails include learning about the tools and various techniques that make the job easier.
Cutting thick toenails is easier to perform with a little softening. Soak your feet in warm water for five to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your nails. You do not want your toenails to become so soft that they rip; nail bed injuries, hang nails and ingrown shards of nail that poke into your skin can result. Dry your feet thoroughly after soaking before cutting your nails.
Choosing the right tools for the job can make cutting thick toenails easier and safer. Fingernail clippers might be too flimsy for cutting thick nails, but clipping is the key word to remember. Clipping your toenails rather than cutting them with nail scissors can more likely ensure you are cutting straight across the toe, a shape that reduces the risk of developing an ingrown nail. Heavy-duty toenail clippers are appropriate for cutting thick toenails, and look more like a pliers than nail clippers. An electric nail grinding kit is another alternative for nails that have thickened to the point that using a traditional clipping device is impossible. Nail grinding kits include flat and cone-shaped discs or bits similar to a floor sander in appearance and technique, yet much smaller. Place the desired bit onto the corded handle and place in contact with your toenail before turning on the power. Work from the top of your nail down to the sides, applying gentle pressure.
Although thick toenails are a normal part of the aging process for some, thick nails can indicate several types of nail abnormalities. Toenails that appear thick and discolored, especially in a person who does not routinely have thick nails, likely point to a fungal nail infection. Consult your doctor for advice and prescription medication.
Thick toenails requiring treatment may be bandaged but still need to be cut from time to time. Your doctor may give you specific directions regarding how often you should cut your nails. If you use a topical anti-fungal treatment to resolve thick nails, cut your toenails before applying the medication. Anti-fungal lacquers and polishes can not only treat your problem more efficiently on a freshly cut nail, but in some cases can hide unsightly discoloration.
- Mayo Clinic; How to Trim Thick Toenails; August 2011
- Foot and Ankle Center of Washington: How to Cut Thick Toenails and Make Toenails Thin
- Medline Plus; Aging Changes in Hair and Nails; Michael Langan; December 2010
- Medline Plus; Nail Abnormalities; Michael Lehrer; April 2009
- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons; December 2009