Frustrated doctor is tired of seeing improper length and shape.

Raise your hand (or foot, if you’d rather) if you really enjoy the process of trimming your toenails. I’m guessing that’s not many of you, since while certain aspects of grooming, like a long bath or a good shave, provide a relaxing, refreshing feeling, clipping your toenails generally feels more like a chore than pampering yourself.

But hey, it’s got to be done, right? And if you’re going to the trouble of trimming your toenails, you may as well trim them nice and short, which will let you go that much longer before you have to repeat the task, right?

Actually, wrong, according to the doctor that Japanese Twitter user @pb8585 recently spoke with. @pb8585 doesn’t divulge the nature of the visit in which the subject of toenail-clipping coming up, but she does say that “The doctor, in a half-irritated voice, said ‘Everyone trims their nails too short,’ and gave me this pamphlet, so I’m sharing it here.”

That diagram, with the three black arrows pointing to it, is how your nail should look, according to the pamphlet, which was created by Masataka Saito, a lecturer and doctor of dermatology at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo. “Are you cutting your big toenail properly?” asks the paper. “This is the correct way to trim your nails and avoid foot problems.”

Let’s take a look at the five points of advice:

1. Trim your nails as soon as possible after taking a shower/bath, when your nails are softest.
2. Starting at the tip, trim the nail little by little, so that it won’t crack.
3. Trim the nail so that it has a square shape.
4. Trim the nail so that its length matches that of the toe.
5. Do not cut the front corners of the nail to round it off.

The first two definitely seem like common sense, but it’s points 3-5 where people are likely to stray from the true toenail path. Following the simple logic that if trimming is good, more trimming must be better, it’s tempting to pare down the nail as far as your clippers can reach, but both Saito and @pb8585 strongly caution against that.

Starting with point 4, if you trim the nail so that it’s shorter than the toe itself, the skin at the front of the toe is going to be bumping and rubbing against the inside of your shoe all day. That will cause the toe itself to swell, which will prevent your nail from staying straight as it grows out, leading to a distorted nail that causes foot pain.

Point 3 and 5 are also linked. While you might prefer the aesthetics of a nail with a rounded front, clipping the corners off causes the nail to get sucked into the flesh at the top of your toe, which can result in inflammation and, once again, foot pain.

Of course, the cautions against trimming your nails too short don’t mean you should let them grow free forever like some creepy foot-version Rapunzel. Much like how too short a nail leaves your toe banging into your shoe, too long a nail leaves the nail suffering that fate, which will cause a painful distortion of a different sort than you’ll get if you cut it too short. It seems like a matched length allows the toe and the nail to share impact-absorbing duties, which helps keep either one from getting banged up enough to cause discomfort.

While the diagram’s text mentions the big toe specifically, @pb8585’s doctor said this is a good model for how to trim all of your nails, on both your hands and feet, though ostensibly standards are less strict for your fingernails, which don’t have the same impact issues as your stuck-inside-shoes toes do.

Sources: Twitter/@pb8585 via Hachima Kiko, Keio University Hospital
Featured image: Twitter/@pb8585
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso
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