How to Cut Your Thick Toenails At Home

Are your toenails thick, hard, and difficult to cut? Traditional trimming methods don’t often work well on thick nails, resulting in potential breakage and other injuries. Plus, nails thick enough to resist cutting could indicate a medical issue that requires treatment.

If you’re having trouble cutting your thick toenails, follow these simple steps for the perfect trim.


How to Cut Thick Toenails: Step by Step Guide

Fortunately, simple and effective strategies can help keep even the toughest toenails properly groomed. Here’s how to cut thick toenails to make them thinner, better looking, and healthier.

Step 1: Gather Up the Right Gear

How to Cut Thick Toenails - Cutting Tools

When your toenails are thick, you need two top quality tools to keep them trim:

  • Nail Grinder – A podiatry-grade grinder uses different-sized bits to wear away nails.
  • Nail Clipper – For thick toenails, you’ll want clippers with large jaws and curved blades.

Make sure you buy gear specifically made for toenails. Clippers and grinders made for fingernails typically aren’t strong enough for thick toenails. Using them on your feet can result in accidental injury.

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Step 2: Soak Your Feet

Soak Feet to Cut Thick Toenails

Once you’ve assembled your gear, you need to prepare your toes. Never attempt to cut thick toenails when they’re dry. Instead, soften them up first by soaking them in a saltwater solution.

Use about two and a half tablespoons of salt for every gallon of warm water. Soak your feet for at least 30 minutes.

Before you start grooming, dry your feet thoroughly. You don’t want wet skin because you’ll likely need to hold onto your foot as you cut your nails.


Step 3: Start with the Clipper

If your nails are both thick and long, use the clipper to trim them down as much as you can. Starting at the corner, use small, short cuts to prevent splintering.

You probably won’t be able to cut the nail too much. That’s okay. The point of this initial action is to trim down as much of the nail as you can. Don’t force the clippers if the nail is too thick.

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Continue with the Grinder

How to Cut Thick Toenails - Use Nail Grinder

After trimming down the thin part of the nail, you’ll then use the grinder to tackle the thicker sections. Start at the top of the nail. Apply gentle pressure starting at the middle and rolling to each side.

Grind the nail down until it’s thin or starts to warm. If the nail becomes warm, you’ll need to stop grinding until it cools completely, which can take a few hours.

Patience is key here. If your nails are especially thick, grinding them down might take multiple sessions across several days.


Step 4: Finish with the Clippers

How to Cut Thick Toenails - Use Nail Clipper

Once you’ve ground down the thickest part of your toenails, you’ll want to return to the clippers. Make small, straight cuts across the toenail. Be careful, this is one of the most important parts of learning how to cut thick toenails.

Don’t round the cut at the edges of your toes. Instead, always make straight cuts. Doing so helps reduce the likelihood of developing ingrown nails.

Once the toenail has a straight cut, gently use a nail file or emery board to dull the edges. Otherwise, the sharp corners of the toenail can get caught on your sock or press into adjacent toes.

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What Causes Thick Toenails?

Ultimately, cutting your thick toenails is only a short-term solution. You’ll want to identify the cause of your thick toenails, so you can treat the issue directly.

Potential causes include:


What Causes Thick Toenails - Fungus

Fungus and yeast are major causes of thick toenails. Called onychomycosis, the condition affects roughly one out of every ten people – jumping to one out of every two people over 70.

The most common ways you can catch toenail fungus is by:

  • Walking barefoot in public areas, especially in areas near water, such as swimming pools and locker rooms
  • Showering barefoot in public places, such as at the gym

Aside from thick nails, other symptoms of a fungal infection include nail color changes, cracks, and separation from the nail bed. To treat a nail fungus, you’ll need to see a doctor, who will likely prescribe either a topical solution or medication.



What Causes Thick Toenails - Injury

Injuries can also cause toenails to thicken. It’s especially common due to repetitive actions, such as playing lots of soccer or frequently dancing in closed shoes. Along with a thickening of the nail, you’ll likely also have bruising, black toenails and pain around the toe.

Many times, nail thickening is only temporary. It’s a response to blunt trauma to the front of the foot. If you stop the activity, the nail will return to normal thinness.

You might also want to invest in better protective gear, such as thicker socks or reinforced shoes.


Final Thoughts

Thick nails can be embarrassing, unsightly, and uncomfortable – but help is available. The tools you use make a big difference, so invest in a high-quality grinder and clipper.

Also, soak your feet in warm salt water for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Above all, cut slowly and carefully to prevent accidental injury.

By following the strategies above, and seeking guidance from your doctor when necessary, you can learn how to cut thick toenails to make them thinner. Get ready to feel like you’re walking on air!

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