Can Nurses cut diabetic toenails?

To begin with, diabetes is considered a chronic disease, which originates because the pancreas does not synthesize the amount of insulin that the body needs. This substance is a hormone that this organ produces, which must maintain the adequate values of glucose in the blood.

Nurses must be apt and trained in everything related to the care of patients, especially if they are diabetic, if they are hospitalized and require certain care, personal hygiene, including cutting toenails.

But nurses can cut diabetic toenails, if the situation warrants it. There are times when toenails can cause discomfort or problems for diabetic patients.

How to cut diabetic toenails?

Among the necessary implements to perform this work, it is necessary to have a nail file, since many times a nail clipper does not work, since the patient feels this element in his feet and it can be painful for him.

Instead with the file you will touch parts of the toenail that are dead, which the patient will not feel. It may take some time, but it is progress if this is done regularly.

It is risky to do this work, but if the patient requests it, it should be fine at least in most cases.

Most diabetics have thick toenails, due to reduced blood flow to their feet, resulting in numbness or thicker nails.

To cut these nails you need to perform the following steps:

  • Soak your feet in warm water for at least 10 minutes to soften the nails, then remove them from the water and towel dry your feet and nails.
  • With a nail clipper, make small cuts to avoid chipping the nails and always cut in a straight line.

Who can cut diabetic toenails?

When trimming diabetic toenails, you should always take into account that there are no wounds or ulcers on the toenails, as they are common in diabetics.

Podiatrists are trained not only to cut toenails in a professional manner, but they can also detect any other problems related to toenails.

Why do Nurses cut diabetic toenails?

Trimming toenails is a way of rehabilitation for patients recovering from orthopedic treatment by removing what causes discomfort.

Nurses have contemplated questionnaires on attitudes towards patient hygiene, many of them believe that it is part of the podiatrists’ job, but that they can do it in special cases.

The impediments that a nurse may have to cut the toenails of patients are fear of damaging their feet and lack of confidence in the technique to be applied if they are diabetic.

Cutting toenails is more of a health issue than a cleanliness issue, and many people do not take care of their feet the way they should.

Having infected toenails means that it will hurt to walk during the day, this is something that most people can go through and it is recommended that you take care of it right away.

A qualified nurse knows how to get rid of the problem, without causing any discomfort to the diabetic patient.

Can nurses cut diabetic toenails?

Toenails are not always the same and always an authoritative nurse can do this so that the problem does not spread, it can be painful to go through and remove toenails to prevent the pain from spreading further.

The threat of a damaged toenail is something a nurse can take care of, as it is among their duties, especially if the diabetic person is in pain.

Nurses, are taught to file patients’ nails if necessary, but not to cut them, if you find it difficult to perform this task on a diabetic patient, leave nail care to podiatric experts so as not to cause harm to the patient.

Are nursing assistants allowed to cut toenails?

Before performing the nail care of a diabetic patient, you should check with your facility if among the functions of a nursing assistant, is to cut the toenails of these patients.

You must be trained to trim toenails properly, and before doing so you should wash your hands and put on gloves.

Does insurance pay for diabetic toenail trimming?

Normally insurance does not cover nail trimming and any type of routine foot care, it is true that Diabetes Mellitus is a health condition that may provide coverage, but if a doctor has been treating you for diabetes in six months prior to the nail trimming.

If you have any complication of diabetes that prevents you from walking or affects your feet, such as loss of sensation, ulcers, muscle pain, swelling, fungal infection of the toenails.

If you have a diabetes-related condition affecting your feet that would make it safe for anyone but a podiatrist or health care professional to trim your toenails.


Diabetic toenails can be one of the most frightening situations a nurse can face, the patient is looking for a way to treat the problem in a hospital, but there is no telling what pain they may feel going through the process.

Marlene J. Shockley

My name is Marlene J. Shockley, and I am a Registered Nurse (RN). I have always been interested in helping people and Nursing seemed like the perfect career for me. After completing my Nursing Degree, I worked in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and home health care. I have also had the opportunity to work as a Travelling Nurse, which has allowed me to see different parts of the country and meet new people. No matter where I am working, I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families and helping them through whatever medical challenges they may be facing.