Not my foot...Later this month I will be celebrating my 30 year anniversary of living with type 1 diabetes.  As that number gets bigger, the more important it is for me to pay attention to the little things.  As that number gets bigger, the more important it is for me to be careful about routine personal hygiene things, like trimming my toenails.

In almost 30 years, I’ve heard a lot of general talk about how to trim my toenails, but because I’m young, and in pretty good health, the subject was always sort of skimmed over.  They always say “trim straight across”, and that’s about it!

Maybe I’m over-complicating things, but a toe’s end is roundish.  If I trim my nails straight across, won’t that leave sharp edgy corners on them?  Besides, how do you trim straight across when all of the nail clippers I’ve every used are curved?  There are probably some special, straight across, toenail clippers that I’ve never known existed.

Have you ever been taught how to safely trim your toenails?  If so, who taught you?  Your endo?  A toenail trimming specialist?  Am I the only one who missed the lesson?

It would be a real bummer to get a threatening infection by some stupid self-inflicted toenail trimming accident.  Or by doing something that is a “no-no” without knowing it is a “no-no”.

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14 thoughts on “Toenails?

  1. Hi, As most Dx in UK I get the call every few weeks to attend the podiatry clinic at the hospital where they cut my toe nails and my feet are comfortable again for a few weeks. They NEVER cut them straight always curved and that is from the top Podiatrist there. They also never cut them very short. If my appointment is late or I am away then they tell me to run a file back to front over the nail and that also reduces the length and always run a little olive oil on to the nail just a drop. Dave

  2. I have the added problem of having a very thick toenail on one foot. This made it extremely hard to cut. Now I cut what I can with the large toenail clippers and I use the Pedi-Paws to smooth it out and round the edges. I originally bought it to use on my dogs because that’s what it’s designed for, but as soon as I turned it on, they panicked and ran out of the room. So there I’m sitting thinking that I just wasted my money and it dawned on me to try it on myself. It worked like a charm. Sometimes I don’t even have to use the clippers at all. The vibrating feels a little weird but you get used to it. It’s just like a little mini-sander.

  3. I try to get them as straight as possible. Lately I’ve been letting them go a little longer. One of my friends suggested filing with a nail file. It does help. I use to cut mine way too short, I know that is bad because of ingrown toe nails.

  4. Straight across is what I’ve been taught, too. But I still try to round them out by trimming that little bit of on the edges. These days, however, I just let my manicurist do the trimming and cleaning for me teehee. With all the demands I’m juggling right now, my toenails are the last things I want to worry aobut.

  5. The best thing to do would be to have your nails trimmed by the Podiatrist every 6-8 weeks.
    Diabetics must pay particular attention to their foot health for a number of reasons:
    – Diabetes can lead to a loss of sensation in the feet (distal polyneuropathy), meaning that damage is more likely to go unnoticed.
    – There can be changes to the muscle power in the leg, leading to changes in foot shape and high pressure areas.
    – The skin can become dry (anhidrotic) due to autonomic nerve neuropathy. Dry skin is more likely to crack and create a portal of entry for infection.
    – Diabetics are more likely to develop problems with their blood supply to the feet (due to calcification of arteries in the periphery).
    A podiatrist can perform vascular, neurological and functional tests which will tell you your foot health status. It is important to have your feet checked regularly, and you should check your own feet daily if you are a diabetic. Podiatrists are experts at offloading pressure from areas of the foot that are at risk of ulceration.

  6. I’m ambivalent as to when a podiatrist might be needed and when not. As a rule, I steer clear of professional manicures/pedicures. Before diagnosis, I was more comfortable doing everything myself. Now, because my fingernails tend to turn blue or black when the surrounding environment gets cold, I need to not wear nail polish, on any nail, ever.
    I’ve noticed that on a lot of people with diabetes, toenails tend to get discolored regardless of room temperature. Some of this may be related to our increased risk of developing athlete’s foot or other fungal infections. I would consult with a podiatrist to determine whether or not nail polish has a deleterious effect on an individual with fungus-infected nails before deciding to use it on any nail (even those which are not infected).

  7. Well, I don’t cut mine. I have a bad (and gross) habit of peeling them off. I don’t get pedicures because the two times I went they made fun of my small toenails. After the first time, I swore I would never go again, my boss convinced me to go with her- I told her I was afraid of them making fun of my small toenails. She said I was being ridiculous.
    First thing the pedicure lady said was “HAHA wow your toenails are really small!”
    never again.

  8. Scott,
    I haven’t heard of the straight across cut. I usually cut my own toenails because I haven’t had a chance to go to the salon to have my toes done. a podiatrist (sp) said if you can’t see your toes don’t trim them, if you can’t feel your feet don’t trim them. Go to a podiatrist. PWD’s are allowed to go once or twice a year for feet maintenance. Nail polish is ok for PWD’s:)

  9. good question. “they” used to say cut straight across. now “they” say cut to the shape of your toe but so that the corner is visible.
    as for the “dont get pedicure” rule for PWDs – I ignore it by my own choice. I go to a salon that has the sterilizer machines out and I don’t have neuropathy as of yet. I feel safe about it. If I had the money, I would do it much more frequently! For now I go every few months and do my own pedicure at home.
    The important part is to make sure that before you clip anything, your hands and feet are clean. Dont dig anything out if you do have an ingrown nail.
    My Gma had her big toe nails removed when she was younger. She said she got ingrown nails a lot and she didn’t need them so she had the doctor take them off. egh… to each their own!

  10. Hi Scott,
    At the risk of being too graphic, as a child I had part of the nail bed of one of my big toes surgically removed because of the way I had cut my toenails resulting in an ingrown nail that got terribly infected.
    As far as straight across, I think there is some wiggle room. I think the difference with toes as compared to fingernails is that you need to leave a little more of the white part in the corners to avoid the nail growing inward. When I cut my toenails, they only have the slightest of curves, and I don’t cut them too short. You can even soften those points with a file. You just don’t want to follow the whole line of the white part the way it goes down in the corners.
    This is a completely unqualified opinion, but one from someone who doesn’t want to go through that surgery again and I’ve never had a problem. My explanation is probably as clear as mud anyway! I never thought I would be typing about my toenails!!!

  11. I never cut them straight across like you said but my neuropathy has become so bad that most times I cut myself without knowing it. I have to have my wife do it as humbling as that is I do it.
    I asked my doc once why I need them? I mean, yank them off and be done. It’s pointless to me.

  12. My dr. told me its not a good idea to get pedicures at a salon. If you are SURE they clean the instruments in an autoclave (sterilizing oven), clean the foot tubs and that the nail techs have impeccable hygiene then it may be safe. Some salons will file off callouses and cut off skin which sounds dangerous for a diabetic to me. If only there were diabetic-friendly salons!
    I trim my toenails every 3-4 weeks, lightly file the edges. I have a question too, it polish on toenails ok? I don’t wear it all the time, but lots more often in the summer. Anyone know if toe polish is safe?

  13. I can’t cut straight across – because it does leave sharp points in the corners that dig into the toe next to it. Its those bits that could be pushed in by your shoes to become ingrowing toenails!
    I use curved clippers and have had no problems. My diab foot checks have never said I’m doing anything wrong.
    Diab Type 1 since July 1970

  14. The best way to care for your feet, if you are financially able, is to get pedicures. They will clean your feet, cut your toe nails (straight across) and massage your feet and lower legs. If you are not able to afford this luxury once every couple of months, then the next best way to cut the nails straight across is to use toenail clippers. They are larger than regular clippers and will assist in ensuring the cut is straight across. If you find sharp edges, just gently file across the edge, but not too much or they’ll just be round again.
    The reason for cutting the nails straight is to avoid ingrown toe nails. An ingrown is very dangerous to long term diabetics because this is usually how serious infections begin.