Toenails are by far one of the neglected parts of our bodies. After all, they are hardly ever on show so they are hardly ever thought about. What harm could they possible come to when they are not exposed to anything? Well, it turns out that quite a lot can happen from athletes foot to fungus nails, and most people find out the hard way! For many women, nail care is very important to avoid any nail damage.
The Importance of General Toenail Hygiene
There are many conditions that can affect our feet which could be avoided through simple hygiene. Some common feet conditions include:
Advice for Broken or Chipped Nails
This common happens when we work with unprotected hands or use the nails as tools, example: opening tins. This nail care issue can be avoided when you eat a protein-rich diet and take calcium supplements to make the nails stronger. You should also use gloves and protect your hands when using water and household cleaners with chemical or organic ingredients.
You can avoid having chipped and broken nails if you will use long-handled mops and brushes when cleaning, if you wipe your hands off excess moisture and if you use good quality hand and nail lotion or cream to massage your hands often.
About Brittle Nails
When you have brittle nails, your nail plates are dry, hard and flaky. You need to properly replenish your keratin cells to maintain their hydration levels as well as the nail’s natural fats. These are two of the nail’s binding agents which can disintegrate and cause brittleness to the nails.
To avoid nails from becoming brittle, it is recommended that you use gloves when handling cleaners with chemicals and to avoid the frequent application and removal of nail polish using harsh removers. This can dehydrate the nail’s keratin layers and cause brittleness of the nails. You can also use a gentle and rejuvenating cream to massage your nail base after dealing with hangnails to prevent further loosening of the nails from the plates.
In growing toenails can become extremely uncomfortable and painful. It occurs when sides of the nail grow into the skin next to them. Whilst that is bad enough, the skin can often become infected and it can take an extremely long time to heal. Some in growing toenails can only be treated through surgery, so really it is better to try and prevent the condition form happening before it gets to that! This is one of the worst kinds of nail infections which you can get. Starting at the top of the nail, in the early stages of the condition, you may notice white or yellow patches. There may even be yellow streaks across the nail. The fungus feeds on the keratin within the nail and it spreads really quickly. Usually starting on the big toe, it tends to spread quickly to the nails next to it and in some rare, severe cases; it can even infect the skin around the nails.
This condition is extremely unsightly and it causes a lot of embarrassment to its sufferers. It can become uncomfortable whilst walking and you will also notice a really foul odor coming from the nail. It can be extremely difficult to get rid of and usually a Chiropodist will help you to get rid of the problem. It can take 9-12 months however so be prepared to be patient!
Other problems which may occur in the feet include problems with the matrix (the area which the nail grows from), problems with the nail bed, and problems with the white moon-shaped area of the nail.
The Causes and Prevention of Toenail Problems
Most toenail problems can be avoided through simple hygiene. However, if you wear shoes which are not correctly fitted, that could also cause many nail problems. This is due to the shoes pushing tightly against the nail.
If you have an injury to the nail and it bruises underneath, or if you do get an infection, it can lead to a permanent deformity in the nail.
In order to best look after your nails, it is important that when you trim them, you make sure you are cutting straight across just below the end of the toe. Try not to round off the corners as this can contribute to in growing toenails.
Ingrown toenail removal can be performed without a tourniquet, but it is easier with a bloodless surgical field. If a tourniquet is used, it should be removed as soon as possible. Ingrown nails can be avoided by cutting nails straight across; nails should not be cut along a curve, nor should they be cut too short. In both cases, the important thing to avoid is cutting the nail shorter than the flesh around it. Ingrown toenails are likely to recur, so preventative measures are important.
Also, make sure that you are using good, strong nail clippers. The nails on our toes are a lot stronger than the nails on our hands and you really want to be able to trim them quickly and easily without causing damage to the nail.
Once you have finished trimming your nails, use an emery board to smooth them down using downward strokes. This will help to stop any rough edges which could potentially snag and rip parts of the nail off.
Try and wear properly fitted shoes which are neither too short nor too narrow. Also, when washing your feet, make sure that you are washing everywhere such as in between the toes, under the toe nails, and then make sure that you dry them thoroughly.
Wear Socks that Allow your Feet to Breathe
Finally, wearing cotton socks is a lot better than nylon as they absorb moisture and keep your feet dryer. Fungus feed off moist, warm areas and so sweaty feet are a haven for them! Be sure to cover up any cuts on the feet also, as the fungus can get into the wound and infect it.
You can avoid having chipped and broken nails if you will use long-handled mops and brushes when cleaning, if you wipe your hands off excess moisture and if you use good quality hand and nail lotion or cream to massage your hands often
Overall the main cause of toenail problems is poor hygiene and not keeping the feet clean enough. If you do notice that you are getting sweaty feet, be sure to wash them once you get home and dry them thoroughly. You can never be too careful and it is always better to be safe than sorry!