Step by Step Guide to Soften and Cut Toenails

Thickened toenails look quite unsightly, but thankfully, there are ways to make your toenails look better. To soften toenails, you first need to determine exactly what is affecting your toenails in the first place. Thickened toenails may be the result of aging, but an injury to the toenail and toenail fungus can also be the underlying cause of thick toenails. Let's find out what you can do to soften your toenails to make them look beautiful again.

How to Soften Toenails

Many people try to cut thick toenails and end up breaking them. Instead of chipping away at them using a nail clipper, you should first soften toenails and then cut them carefully. Here is what you can do about it.

  • Start by preparing the tub. You can simply pour a gallon of warm water into the deep basin, bathtub, or dishpan. Mix about 2 ½ tablespoons of salt in it.
  • Soak your feet into the solution for half an hour. You should soak them for more than 30 minutes if your toenails are very thick.
  • Get your feet out of the tub and pat them dry using a soft towel.
  • Take a softening cream and apply it on your toenails. Cut your toenails right away.

Your toenails are likely to become soft after you soak them in the solution, but the treatment may not always work. If soaking and softening cream do not work, you may want to try the following:

  • Instead of soaking your feet, apply Vicks Vaporub directly on your affected toenails twice a day. It is better to apply it once in the morning and again in the evening before bedtime.
  • To get better results, consider applying hydrogen peroxide on your toenails prior to applying Vicks Vaporub. This often works better than prescription medications.
  • In terms of how to soften toenails, applying tea tree oil on your thick toenails may also help. It works because it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It prevents infection and softens your toenails in a short time. Mix 4oz of olive oil with an ounce of tea tree oil. Do not take tea tree oil internally and be sure to dilute it before use.
  • White vinegar has antibacterial properties and is a great remedy for thick toenails. You need to dip a cotton ball in the vinegar and rub it directly on your affected toenails. Repeat twice a day and then clip your toenails when they feel soft enough. Trimming your nails regularly is very important to help make your toenails look better. Soaking your feet in a mixture of white vinegar and water may also help make your toenails soft.

How to Cut Thick Toenails

Learning how to soften toenails is important but it is equally important to understand the right way of cutting your thick toenails. Here is how to handle the process:

1. Get the Right Tools

Before you get started, you need to get nail grinding tools first. You will require a thinning tool along with a podiatry-grade nail grinder. Electric nail grinders are also available with bits designed to work on thick toenails. If you cannot find it, be sure to find another type of toenail clipper. Under no circumstances should you be using fingernail clippers on your thick toenails.

2. Prepare Your Toenails

If you have no idea of how to soften toenails, use the methods mentioned already. Soaking your toes in warm saline solution for a few minutes really help make your toenails soft enough for cutting.

3. Start from the Top of the Big Toenail

You should use a toenail grinder on the top of the big toenail. Do it while your toenails are still somewhat damp. You will have to apply gentle pressure to grind it properly. Keep grinding until it gets to normal thickness.

4. Move to the Sides

Once you have worked on the top of the big toenail, you should then move to the sides. Apply gentle pressure only while moving up and down the side of your nail. It is important to thin the sides because it helps prevent ingrown toenails.

5. Work on the Smaller Toenails

Once you have handled the sides of the big toenail, you should then move on to the smaller toenails. Keep grinding it until it reaches normal thickness. Be sure to apply gentle pressure to prevent injury. You can take a break if it feels that your toenail is still thick and hard. Soak your feet again tomorrow and continue grinding.

6. Shorten the Nails

After grinding your toenails, you should shorten the nails. You can use your nail clipper to get rid of any loose portions. Be sure to start from the tip of the toenail. You should also be clipping shorter and shorter because these toenails are likely to break further in as you continue to clip. You should always clip these toenails straight across because rounded toenails can cause ingrown nails. 

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