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How Do I Choose the Best Toenail File?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 21, 2024
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Choosing the best toenail file depends upon price, material, and ease of handling. A toenail file can be purchased at a drug store very inexpensively, or at a high-end department store, which may be more costly. One common type of nail file is the emery board. This tool does an efficient job of filing and shaping the toenails, but when toenails are especially thick or hard, a metal or power toenail file may be a better choice.

Great care should be taken when using a toenail file. Filing the toenails using a rough, saw-like motion can cause damage to the nail bed or even cause an ingrown toenail. In addition, filing the toenails too short can cause tissue damage and even contribute to an infection. People with circulatory problems or diabetes should seek foot care from an experienced podiatrist. In addition, patients with these conditions may be more prone to infection, and if an injury does occur while filing the nails, healing may be delayed.

A diamond toenail file is made from metal with diamond dust on the filing surface. When grooming the nails with a diamond toenail file, the edges are generally smoother and filing is typically easier than when filing with an emery board. In addition, diamond or other metal toenail files are easy to clean and can be sanitized to reduce the risk of infection. Conversely, an emery board is hard to clean and cannot be disinfected.

Electric nail files are sometimes used in a professional nail salon because they are effective when filing and shaping acrylic nails. Since acrylic nails are thicker and tougher than natural nails, they generally require a filing tool that offers more power than a stainless steel nail file or emery board. Electric nail files should be used very carefully or they may remove too much of the nail, causing injury or permanent nail damage.

If filing the toenails causes an injury or ingrown toenail, the area should be watched for signs and symptoms of infection. These include redness, swelling, and pain. In addition, extreme sensitivity, drainage, and pus formation may be signs of a bacterial infection that may require an antibiotic. The physician may recommend the use of a topical antibiotic ointment, but in some cases an oral antibiotic might be the treatment of choice. Those who don't feel comfortable filing their toenails should have them done by a professional, either at a salon or at a doctor's office, to reduce the risk of further infection.

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Discussion Comments
By Crimea — On Sep 19, 2013

I actually use the same nail file for both toenails and finger nails. I have a glass one from Germany that has lasted me for years and works great. I really prefer it to the options that are available in the US such as the emery board or the diamond file. Both of those have surfaces that are severely impacted by frequent use and have to be replaced often.

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