Caring for your feet and toenails

This information explains how you can look after your feet and toenails. You should also wear good shoes that support your feet. Read our information about choosing shoes for more details on supportive shoes. Speak to your podiatrist for a copy of this leaflet.

Checking your feet

Check the top and bottom of your feet, and always check between your toes. Look out for:

  • cuts
  • scratches
  • bruises
  • blisters
  • wounds
  • painful areas

If you find it hard to reach your feet, try using a mirror or put your feet up on a chair. You could ask someone to help you check your feet.

Cleaning your feet and toenails

Wash your feet every day in the shower or bath. If you find this difficult, you can use a washing-up bowl.

Use soap to gently wash your feet. Using a nail brush, gently scrub your toenails. Do not soak your feet for more than 10 minutes. Dry your feet and between your toes thoroughly with a clean towel.

If you have sweaty feet, the skin between your toes can become white and damp. This can make your feet smell. You can avoid this by cleaning between your toes after you have washed your feet. Use a cotton bud or cotton wool and surgical spirit to gently clean between your toes. 

Moisturising your feet

We recommend you use a urea-based cream to moisturise your feet. They are available in 10% or 20% concentrations (strengths). Speak to your podiatrist about which one is best for you. You can buy this from your local pharmacy.

Put cream on the top and bottom of your feet every day. Avoid putting cream between your toes. Wait a few minutes for the cream to soak in before walking because your feet may be slippery.

Cutting your toenails

Cut your toenails regularly, every 6 to 12 weeks. Cut them carefully and make sure you’re in a light room so you can see clearly. If you have diabetes this is particularly important to avoid injuries to your feet.

Use nail scissors or clippers to cut your toenails. Cut them straight across and use a metal nail file to smooth and round off sharp edges.


  • file your nails 2 times a week if you find it difficult to cut your nails
  • file in 1 direction, away from your body
  • cut following the natural shape of your nail

Do not

  • do not cut down the side of your nail
  • do not pick or tear your nails
  • do not cut your toenails too short
  • do not cut a ‘v’ shape in to your nail

Hard skin (callus)

If you have hard skin (callus) you can file the area using a foot file or pumice stone. Gently file the area when it’s dry, 1 or 2 times each week. Keep your feet moisturised regularly.

Contact us if your feet show signs of infection, such as:

  • swelling
  • heat
  • pain
  • discharge (liquid)
  • redness

Useful information

The Royal College of Podiatry have information on foot conditions and procedures.

Resource number: 4887/VER2
Last reviewed: May 2023
Next review due: May 2026

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the community podiatry team.

Phone 020 3049 7900, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

If you need emergency help outside of these hours please contact your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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