Do Podiatrists Cut Toenails?

Podiatrist treating toenail fungus.

Podiatrists are the specialist doctors to see for patients who require specialized diagnosis and treatment for pains and conditions related to the lower legs and foot. This includes diabetic issues, bunions, Achilles tendonitis, heel spur, arthritis of the foot, and many other ankle and foot conditions. But one question we often get is whether podiatrists also help patients cut their toenails.

So can a podiatrist also help patients with their toenails? In most cases, yes; they regularly assist patients with toenail care. While cutting toenails may seem like a simple matter of grooming, there are actually many patients who have problems with their toenails or feet that prevent them from cutting them without professional help.

Issues such as thickened nails, fungal nails, and ingrown nails can be treated by a podiatrist with proper routine nail care assistance.

When Do Podiatrists Help with Toenails?

So when might it be a time to get professional podiatry help for your toenails? If your toenails are healthy and in good condition but you don’t like cutting them on your own, then you might be better off asking a friend or relative for help, or visiting a pedicurist.

However, if you have any condition making it difficult to deal with your nails, then a visit to your nearest podiatry clinic is definitely recommended. Here are some common nail conditions that require podiatry care:

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown nails occur when the skin gets in the way of the toenail, usually because it was badly cut or pushed slightly to the side. This leads to pressure against the skin, and as they grow the skin can become punctured, leading to mild to intense pain on the toe as well as infection.

Most people who experience ingrown toenails experience it more than once due to certain habits or behaviors causing the toenails to become ingrown. Common causes include shoes that are too loose or too tight, repetitive activity of the foot with bad form (such as sports), or damage caused by injury. Some people also simply have toenails that are naturally more curved or involuted, leading to a likelier chance of becoming ingrown.

Podiatry should be able to assist patients experiencing ingrown toenails with the proper filing, shaping, and cutting to remove the nail and prevent its ingrown regrowth. It’s important to have an ingrown nail dealt with as soon as possible, to avoid the possibility of experiencing long-term pain and serious infection.

Fungal Nails

While ingrown toenails lead to the possibility of the punctured skin on the toe becoming infected, the toenails themselves can become infected, most commonly as a result of fungus. This results in what is known as a fungal nail; make sure you know which one your infection may be.

Fungal nails typically have a discolored appearance, looking slightly brown or yellow, and the nail will lose its natural texture and become powdery and even brittle. In some cases, the nail can become thicker than normal (although a thickened nail is not always a sign of a fungal infection; thickened nails can also be a result of injury or trauma, like sports injuries).

Podiatry expertise can diagnose and treat fungal infections of toenails. The easiest way to treat fungal nails is with anti-fungal medication as well as manually removing the fungus from the nail. It is crucial that you see a podiatry clinic rather than a normal spa or salon for fungal infections, as doctors thoroughly sterilize all their tools, while spas and salons might not.

Most podiatry clinics use only single-use disposable instruments to maximize patient safety needs, meaning tools that can only be used one time for one usage, cutting the possibility of infection from cross-contamination.

Diabetes

Diabetes affects the entire body, and there are many unexpected ways doctors help diabetic patients. Since diabetes leads to nerve damage throughout the body, this can lead to a significant reduction of sensation in a person’s toes and feet.

This means patients might have ingrown toenails or other problems with their toenails that they can’t feel until it becomes a major medical problem, and they might also have difficulty trimming the nails themselves.

Whether it’s for one nail or all of them, nail trim and cut routines for diabetics needs to be done with extreme caution, because the poor circulation experienced by diabetics significantly limits their ability to heal from even the smallest wounds. These small cuts caused by bad trim or cut jobs may lead to infections which could evolve into major diabetic ulcers.

This is why diabetics are typically advised to have routine nail care performed by a podiatry clinic every few weeks or months. Without routine nail care, diabetic patients may possibly develop life-threatening diabetic wounds and chronic infections.

Other Conditions

There are many other conditions that could make it difficult for patients to trim and cut their nails on their own. Health issues such as arthritis, reduced vision, and other conditions that limit mobility can make personal nail care difficult if not impossible.

Older patients with limited independence and impaired mobility should definitely get podiatric help. In these cases, routine professional nail trim care is a sure must.

Can I Have My Toenails Cut by a Pedicurist Instead?

If you are looking to save on your bill or just avoid going to a clinic, you might consider seeing a pedicurist for your toenail care. While this is a sure option for some, it’s not advisable for people who might have serious health conditions and medical needs such as those listed above or even older individuals.

This is because you can’t know that a pedicurist will follow the proper sanitization practices and caution that doctors are trained to follow. There is no guarantee that your toenail issues will be properly treated by a pedicurist, leading to small issues becoming major because they weren’t diagnosed and treated in ways only a medical health professional could know. Just one bad visit can get you stuck with long-term nail issues.

Learn more: Can a Podiatrist Remove Dead Skin?