Have Questions and Woes About Cutting Stubborn Fungal Toenails?

Trimming toenails is not something most people tend to put a lot of thought into.

Although some of us should probably do it a bit more often, the act itself becomes pretty habitual. Snip, snip, done.

However, once a fungal toenail infection enters the picture, things can become a bit more difficult. Nails can grow thick, brittle, crumbly, and generally unwieldy. It starts to feel less like the classic way of trimming your toenails and more like hacking your way through a dense rainforest.

So what should you do when it comes to cutting thick fungal toenails to ensure a better experience? We’re here to offer some advice.

Thick Clip Quick Tips

Before we get into it, we should note that fungal nails are not the only way toenails grow thickened and cumbersome to clip.

Trauma to the nails, tightly fitting shoes with small toe boxes, and general heredity can sometimes cause nails to grow thick, so many of the tips we’ll discuss here can apply to these situations as well.

First, however, we should definitely clear some helpful, fungus-specific tips out of the way. There is one big difference between toenail fungus and the conditions we mentioned above: the fungus is alive, and it can travel.

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Keep Your Fungal Nail Trimming Equipment Separate

Nail clippers and other equipment that comes in contact with fungal areas are not objects that should be used anywhere else, or for anyone else. Doing so invites a greater chance for a fungus to be carried from one set of nails to another.

This is not just a warning against sharing toenail trimmers between family members; you should also not use that set of trimmers on your fingernails, either! It is quite possible for a fungal infection to be transferred from toenails to fingernails, and you can’t exactly hide the latter in a pair of socks all day.

Similarly, only use proper trimming equipment on your toes. Using smaller fingernail clippers not only increases the risk of transferring the fungus if you slip up, they are likely also not going to work very well.

It is also wise to regularly disinfect your equipment, just in case. A soak of a few minutes in rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach will do the trick—just make sure to completely dry any metal parts to avoid rusting. Also make sure all nail debris and matter is cleaned off.

Consider Heavy-Duty Equipment

Sometimes nails can become so toughened and thickened by a fungal infection that a standard pair of toenail clippers just won’t, well… cut it.

If your pair of clippers or trimmers is not doing the job well, do not continue using them. Attacking your toenails like this has a higher risk of causing damage to the nails by ripping or tearing—and it will likely break the clippers themselves sooner or later, too.

A pair of toenail nippers may be a more suitable choice for trimming back thicker nails. These look somewhat like pliers, and can be found in most drugstores.

However, nippers tend to be sharper than standard toenail clippers. We might not recommend them to patients who have diabetes or other conditions that may affect their circulation, ability to sense pain, or ability to heal quickly in the feet.

If you have any questions about what equipment is best for you to use for your toenails, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.

Soften with a Soak

Toenails don’t always need to be softened to be cut well, but thicker nails may need a bit of preparation to make the job easier.

There are two basic ways to go about this. For many, simply having a shower will get toenails wet enough to be more easily clipped. Scheduling your trimming time for just after you have dried off can be a good move.

If you need a bit more direct softening (or just want to relax for a bit), a foot soak can be effective. This is as simple as soaking in warm water for 10, 20, or 30 minutes, drying off, and clipping. If you want to use Epsom salts, scents, or other items that won’t irritate your skin or cause any problems with clipping, go right ahead!

Take It Slow and Steady

Thick fungal nails have a tendency to crumble, too. If you try to take off too much at once, the fragile nail might split and fracture in various ways you did not intend it to.

Clip only a small part of your nail at a time, starting at one corner and moving straight along the nail. Make sure these clips are relatively straight and uniform to try to avoid any jagged edges that could snag against socks.

Do not round your nails off at the corners, as this can increase the odds of ingrown toenails. Painful, inflamed, and potentially open skin is not something you want next to toenail fungus.

Don’t Fear Asking for Help

Trimming your toenails is a fundamental part of normal hygiene, but complications such as fungal infections can make the task much more difficult. This doesn’t even factor in dangers such as diabetes, infections risks, and more.

If you ever have questions about how to best trim your toenails—fungal or not—we are more than happy to offer advice and help. We can also help you take care of fungal infections, ingrown nails, and other problems at the source to avoid further problems down the road.

Contact either of our offices to connect with our staff:

  • Roselle Park – (908) 687-5757
  • Princeton – (609) 924-8333

Or, if you would like, fill out our online form to contact us electronically.

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