Best way to soften hard toenails

How to Soften Hard Stools

How to Soften Hard Stools

Co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD

Updated: March 29, 2019

Explore this Article Softening Stool through Diet Making Lifestyle Changes Using Medications Questions & Answers Related Articles References

This article was co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD. Dr. Matsko is a retired Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007.

There are 29 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Passing hard, dry stool is painful. It hurts when it blocks your bowels and when it is difficult to pass. There are several dietary and lifestyle changes that will likely help solve the problem. If they don’t work, see a doctor to get something stronger.


Method 1 Softening Stool through Diet

Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 1 1 Drink more water. Dehydration can cause your body to extract as much water as it can as foods move through your digestive tract, producing dry, hard stool. Drinking enough water will soften your stool and help things move along more easily.[1]
  • Doctors sometimes recommend about two liters, or 8 glasses, of water per day. However, that may not be enough for you, depending on your activity level and the climate you live in.
  • If you have frequent headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, don’t urinate often, pass dark or cloudy urine, and don’t sweat much, you are probably not getting enough water.[2]
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 2 2 Eat foods that have slight laxative effects and are high in fiber. Some of these, like prunes, have sorbitol. Sorbitol draws water into the stool, making it soft and easy to pass.[3][4][5]
  • Prunes or prune juice
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Spinach
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 3 3 Eat more fiber. Fiber is the indigestible material in plant foods. Your body passes them through without absorbing them. This means that they help to produce soft, bulky stool which is easy to pass.[6]
  • Most people don’t eat the entire recommended amount of fiber each day, which is 25 to 30 grams (0.88 to 1.1 oz).[7] You need both water soluble fiber, which turns into a gel-like material in water, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve.
  • Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley.
  • You can get insoluble fiber in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables like cauliflower and green beans.
  • Many plants have both soluble and insoluble fiber, you can get both by eating lots of different grains and vegetables.
  • Eating more fiber will be most effective if you drink extra water to help dissolve the water soluble fiber.
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 4 4 Maintain healthy gut bacteria by eating yogurt. Your digestive tract needs the right balance of microbes to efficiently digest your food. When this microbe community gets out of balance, it can make you constipated and interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Live culture yogurt and other fermented dairy products like kefir can help restore and rebalance your gut bacteria. This can help you combat hard stools due to:[8]
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Unexplained diarrhea and constipation
  • Diarrhea or constipation after antibiotics have killed some of the naturally occurring gut bacteria
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 5 5 Add supplements to your diet to promote healthy digestion. But be sure to consult your doctor first because some supplements may change how your body processes some medicines.
  • Try fiber supplements. They will make your stool bulkier, softer and easier to pass. These supplements are often called bulk forming laxatives and you should try these before moving on to other types of laxatives. Look for ones with methylcellulose, psyllium, calcium polycarbophil, and guar gum as active ingredients (e.g., FiberCon, Metamucil, Konsyl, and Citrucel).[9]
  • Try probiotic supplements. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are like your naturally occurring gut microbes. Taking probiotics may help if you are experiencing cycles of diarrhea and constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.[10]
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 6 6 Stimulate your bowels with a cup of coffee. Coffee can have a mild laxative effect, so adding a cup or two of coffee to your daily regimen may help to keep your bowels regular.
  • If you already drink coffee you may either need a bit more, or your body may be too habituated for it to provide relief.

Method 2 Making Lifestyle Changes

Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 7 1 Reduce your intake of foods that may cause constipation. Many of these foods are low in fiber, but high sugar and fat. This causes you to feel full before you've eaten enough fiber. Examples include:[11][12]
  • Milk and cheese
  • Squash
  • Sugary foods like pastries, puddings, candy and cake
  • Prepackaged, processed foods which usually have added sugar, salt, and fat.[13]
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 8 2 Eat many small meals rather than only a few large ones. Eating regularly will provide your digestive tract with continuous, low level stimulation and promote healthy digestion and regular contractions.
  • Eat slowly to give your body time to process your food. Eating too fast makes you more likely to overeat, overwhelming your digestive system.
  • Chew your food thoroughly to promote easy digestion and moderate portion sizes.
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 9 3 Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. Exercise will stimulate your bowels to contract, moving food through your system.[14]
  • The activity should be strenuous enough to increase your heart rate like fast walking, swimming, running, or biking.
  • Sometimes this works surprisingly quickly. Plan a route with frequent bathrooms available!
  • If you have other health concerns that might make exercise inadvisable, talk to your doctor first.
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 10 4 Reduce stress in your life. Stress has been shown to cause constipation and diarrhea, both of which may accompany hard, dry stools. Try relaxation techniques such as:[15]
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi
  • Massage
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Visualizing relaxing locations
  • Progressive muscle relaxation where you go through your body and deliberately tense and release each muscle group
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 11 5 Give yourself time on the toilet after each meal. You can simultaneously do relaxation techniques to promote movement through your system.[16][17][18]
  • Spend at least 10 minutes on the toilet approximately 30 minutes after eating.
  • Put your feet on a low stool, so your knees are above your hips. This may make the bowel movement easier.
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 12 6 Use biofeedback to learn to release your pelvic floor muscles. This can make bowel movements easier.[19]
  • The therapist will use a machine to measure the tension in your rectum and help you practice tightening and releasing your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Go to a therapist that works with a doctor or is recommended by your doctor to be sure that they are reliable.

Method 3 Using Medications

Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 13 1 Consult your doctor. Some prescription medications can cause constipation, such as opioid pain relievers. Your doctor may recommend changing your medication or adding a laxative to counter constipation. Your doctor may recommend either over-the-counter medicines or prescribe something stronger. See your doctor right away if you have:[20]
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Severe weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Severe abdominal pain
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 14 2 Lubricate your bowels with a small amount of mineral oil. Consult your doctor to determine what the right dose is for you.[21][22]
  • Wait at least two hours after eating because it may prevent you from fully absorbing the nutrients.
  • It will work within the next six to eight hours.
  • Do not take it while lying in bed, because if you accidentally inhale some of it, it can cause pneumonia in your lungs. For this reason, do not give it to children younger than seven.
  • Do not take mineral oil if you are pregnant, as it may prevent the uptake of nutrients and cause bleeding in the newborn if taken for a long time.
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 15 3 Try stool softeners. These medications take moisture out of the intestines and use it to make your stool wetter.[23]
  • Common ones include Colace and Surfak.
  • Drink an extra few glasses to water each day when you take them.
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 16 4 Use osmotic laxatives to make your stool wetter. These medications work by generating more liquid in your intestines. This will also stimulate your intestines to contract and move stool along, though it may take a few days. Common ones include:[24][25]
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Lactulose
  • Polyethylene glycol (MiraLax)
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 17 5 Consider stimulant laxatives. These are useful if your stool is soft enough to pass, but your intestines aren’t contracting to move it through. These medications stimulate contractions and should work within 12 hours. Common ones are:[26]
  • Senna
  • Bisacodyl
  • Sodium Picosulphate
Image titled Soften Hard Stools Step 18 6 Remove a fecal impaction. If your rectum is blocked with hard, dry stool, you can get relief from a suppository, enema, or manual disimpaction.[27][28]
  • A suppository is a capsule of medication that you put in your anus where it dissolves and is absorbed.
  • An enema is a liquid medication that is introduced into the large intestine via the anus. This should be done by the doctor.
  • Manual disimpaction requires your doctor or nurse to put on gloves and insert two lubricated fingers into the rectum to break up and remove impacted feces.[29]

Community Q&A

Search Add New Question
  • Question Can hard stools cause bleeding? Chris M. Matsko, MD
    Family Medicine Physician Dr. Matsko is a retired Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Chris M. Matsko, MD Family Medicine Physician Expert Answer Yes, hard stools can cause hemorrhoids and bleeding due to the increase in pressure that results from pushing. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 4 Helpful 53
  • Question Which suppository should I use to release impaction? Chris M. Matsko, MD
    Family Medicine Physician Dr. Matsko is a retired Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Chris M. Matsko, MD Family Medicine Physician Expert Answer If you are impacted you need to see a surgeon. You may have to get manually disimpacted. I do not recommend explosive medication to relieve your situation, as this can cause harm. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 37
  • Question Can the consumption of rice also lead to the hardness of the stool? Community Answer Yes, this can increase hardness. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 6 Helpful 43
  • Question Whenever I'm constipated, it normally takes over a week for me to pass it. How can I make passing it hurt less when I'm actually on the toilet? Community Answer Take a stool softener and drink plenty of water. Lubricate your anus with Vaseline before a bowel movement. Sit on the toilet and relax, avoid pushing or straining too hard. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 9
  • Question I have a lot of pain in my anus from the bleeding. What should I do? Community Answer You likely have a bad hemorrhoid; try using medicated wipes for a while. Talk to your doctor though if the bleeding is bad (as in, dripping) as it could also be an anal fissure, which isn't as serious as it sounds, but does require specific ointments. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 18
  • Question What can I do for my four year-old for hard stool? Community Answer Give them prune or pear juice watered down. Once it's passed, try to give them juice regularly to keep from constipation. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 22
  • Question It's been about a week since my last bowel movement. Are there any strong laxatives that can help me? Community Answer Miralax works, but it is very strong - so you might have some problems with going to school/work. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 13 Helpful 35
  • Question Can I use suppositories while pregnant? Community Answer Yes. A suppository is inserted up the anus, not the vagina. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 27 Helpful 33
  • Question What is the name of the medical instrument that can help a disabled person poop when he doesn't know how to push? Community Answer A colostomy bag. It is hooked up to the guts and the stools end up right in the bag. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 5
  • Question My child has trouble passing stools. What should I do? Community Answer Talk to your pediatrician for advice. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 13 Helpful 11
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  • Do not take any medications, including over-the-counter medications without consulting your doctor if you are pregnant.
  • Consult a doctor before giving any medications to a child.
  • Read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations from your doctor.
  • If you are already on other medications, herbal remedies, or supplements, contact your doctor to ask if these medications could interact.


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best way to soften hard toenails
How to Soften Toenails - 7 steps
How to Soften Toenails

Maintaining a good care routine for toenails is essential to keep them healthy and pretty, and to prevent ingrown nails and infections. They should be given as much care and attention as fingernails, even if they're usually out of sight.

Keeping them short, clean and well hydrated is the best trick to keep them healthy. However, this is not always easy, especially if they are not soft to begin with. To find out how to soften toenails and have a perfect pedicure, keep reading this OneHowTo article.

Steps to follow:


Our nails are easy to cut after showering, as the water softens them considerably. Thus, this is a very convenient time to cut them and settle your toenail care routine. This is something that you can do it everyday, but if you want to pay more attention and devote extra time to caring for your toenails, you can soften them separately without having to wait until your shower to do so.


Prepare your toenails before getting them wetting. Apply a moisturizer to your nails and cuticles, massaging the toes as you do so. This will begin the softening process even before soaking your feet in the water - and it feels really nice.

How to Soften Toenails - Step 2


Now it's time to soak them in warm water. For this, fill a deep basin of warm water and add a few drops of baby oil. You can also add coarse salt or bath salts with a little vinegar to enhance the softening effect, and also relax the feet.

Then submerge your feet in the water and let them soak for at least 15 minutes. Like that, the water will soften your toenails more than the scarce few minutes you take in the shower on a daily basis would. The water will make your toes wrinkly, but oil will soften and hydrate your feet and toenails.

How to Soften Toenails - Step 3


Another way to soften toenails is to get a bowl or basin of water to which you add some mild soap and a little alcohol. This will soften, clean and disinfect your nails all in one go. Note that toenails are hotbeds for infection, which should be kept at bay with good hygiene. You can leave them submerged for 15 or 20 minutes without a problem.


When you take your feet out of the basin, thoroughly dry your feet with a clean towel. Do not wait too long before cutting your toenails as you do not want them to harden again after having been left to dry for too long.

Now you can use a nail clipper to cut them and take advantage of the fact that they are nice and soft. Remember to leave them short, but not too short because this may be painful and could cause infection.

File your nails after clipping them for a smooth finish. It is very important that you follow these steps correctly and, to avoid leaving any jagged edges, as we recommend in the article about how to make thick toenails thinner, you should find a good polishing file - it's better if it has different sides and textures - and use it with firm and gentle movements to shape and polish off unevenness.

How to Soften Toenails - Step 5


Once you have finished clipping and filing your nails, apply a moisturizing lotion to your toenails to keep them well-nourished and perfect.


This has been a brief guide on how to soften toenails. Remember to follow this routine for clean and pretty feet. If you need more tips, check out our section on the care of nails.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Soften Toenails, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.

What Do You Do to Make Your Toe Nails Soft So You Can Cut Them? Images

If your toenails are thick, they can be extremely hard to cut. Toenails become thick for several reasons including onychomycosis, a fungal nail infection; poor circulation; and wearing tightly fitting shoes. To cut nails that are hard, you must first soften the nails to make them easier to cut.

Soak in Water

The best way to soften hardened, thick toenails is to place them in a bowl, dishpan or bucket of warm water. Soak them for 10-30 minutes, depending on how hard they are. Add a mild soap or two tablespoons of Epsom salt to the warm water before soaking, if desired.

Nail Nippers

Nail nippers are tools that are designed for cutting hardened nails. They are lightweight, normally made of stainless steel, and can be purchased at almost any drugstore. When using nail nippers, be cautious because they are very sharp. Take small clips, beginning at the corner of the toenails. Instead of rounding the toenail at the corner, use the nail nippers to cut straight across. When toenails are rounded at the corners, a person is more likely to develop an ingrown toenail.

File the Nails

Use a nail file to file hardened toenails. After soaking the toenails in warm water, begin filing the nails down or use a nail file after cutting the toenails with a nail nipper. Make sure that when you file, you file down all sharp edges of the toenails.

Toenail Softening Cream

Purchase toenail softening cream and apply it to thick toenails. Many toenail softening creams work by hydrating the nails, making them soften over time. Some toenail softening creams require a person to apply the cream to the toenails before bed. The next morning, the toenails should be softer, making them easier to cut. If using this type of cream, read the directions on the package before applying.

Visit a Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a doctor trained to care for problems with the foot, toes, ankles and sometimes legs. Podiatrists regularly cut patient’s toenails when they suffer from hard, thick nail issues.

How to Soften Hard Toenails

Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Tough, hard toenails are an unattractive and uncomfortable problem that is quite common. Hard toenails can be caused by certain types of fungal infections or skin conditions---- such as athlete's foot and psoriasis ---- which can thicken and darken the nails, or by physical trauma that has affected the nail directly. While this condition may be embarrassing and annoying, it is not difficult to treat. The toenails can be softened through continuous, basic foot care that you can do yourself.

Fill a large container with warm water. Place your feet in the container and soak for about 20 minutes.

Clip your toenails after you have soaked them. This is important as hard toenails sometimes have the tendency to grow abnormally and can cause additional discomfort.

Gently stroke the surface of the toenails with an emery board to remove the thick, outer layer.

Apply a handful of heavy body lotion or foot cream to each foot's toenails and cuticles at night before you go to bed.

Put on a pair of socks to help your toenails absorb the moisture. Wear the socks overnight.

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