How to Keep Your Toenails Healthy
You might not give much consideration to your toenails, because well, why would you? Toenails may be an afterthought but keeping them (and your feet) healthy is well worth a few minutes of your time.
I don’t need to tell this to people who’ve suffered and ingrown toenail or other similar issues — toenails matter. What starts out as an innocuous-seeming problem turns into a royal headache if left unattended. Ultimately having some problem with your toenails can put you out of action whether that be in terms of sports you like to play, gym activity or simple body mechanics of everyday life. In a word, frustrating.
In the following, we’ll dive into toenail-related issues and offer up some simple and easy tips to help you keep your toenails healthy. Let’s get started!
Like so many things in life, toenail health comes down to what you do and how consistently you do it. Here are eight tips or best practices to get you started:
Cut your toenails properly
Trim your toenails with fully sanitized nail scissors or clippers and make sure to cut them so as to not leave jagged edges. It’s not mandatory but using a nail file to gently smooth off any sharp edges is generally a good idea too.
Don’t wear shoes that don’t fit you
You want your shoes not to be touching or infringing on your toenails in any way. Also, you’ll want to avoid sliding into shoes that are too big, as this can result in your toes jamming into the sides/end of the shoe. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends buying shoes with a wide toe box comfortably accommodates your toes.
Go with breathable footwear
Heat and moisture are the breeding ground for fungus and other nasty things that can crop up on your feet. So, providing some airflow is definitely going to be in your best interest. Don’t believe me? Do a quick image search for toenail fungus. Yeah, that’s what you’re potentially avoiding by ensuring that your shoe breath and let some air in.
Don’t go barefoot in public areas
Locker rooms, public pools, hostel showers, and similar areas are loaded with germs just waiting to attach themselves to your feet. The solution here is quite easy, have a good pair of flip flops and use them.
Alternate which shoes you wear
Putting on shoes that are still damp from yesterday is A, very uncomfortable and B, can lead to issues with your toenails. If you can avoid it don’t wear the same trainers two days in a row. Invest in a few good pairs and rotate them, and if this is not an option make sure the shoes get a lot of air and can dry out between usages.
Disinfect your feet regularly
This is a good practice for the foot as a whole but really make sure you focus around the nails. Scrub your feet in the shower with non-irritating soap daily. Afterward dry your feet thoroughly and make sure no moisture is lingering in between the toes. Also, it’s a good idea to disinfect your shower with a bleach-based cleanser. Spray your shoes with an antibacterial spray somewhat consistently and be sure to go heavy around the toe area. Make sure to wash all your socks in hot water.
Pamper your toes
Every once in awhile springing for a pedicure can be a great idea. This applies to guys as well as girls — so let’s leave gender stereotypes out of it. Sometimes it’s best to let a professional get in there and do their thing. This can be a relaxing and enjoyable break from your stressful life and often times pedicures can be found at a cheaper price than you might think.
Take supplements and moisturize
As the body ages its normal for nails to get more brittle and rough. You can combat this by moisturizing your nails with petroleum jelly or some type of vitamin e based moisturizer. This is especially important if you’ve painted your nails often and/or used harsh polish remover consistently in the past.
So, there are 8 things you want to do, but there are also more than a few things to avoid.
- Don’t pick at the skin around your nails. It can increase the chances of an infection and it hurts, too.
- Don’t cut or push back the cuticles, the tiny sliver of skin where your nail grows out of your finger is very sensitive and needs protection. Cutting too closely can lead to infection as well
- Don’t use nail polish remover more than once or twice a month. It’s really tough on your nails.
No one wants to have gross. misshapen, damaged or unhealthy nails that you’ll sometimes see (particularly in older folks). No one can stop the aging process but you can follow some simple step to make sure your nails remain in good shape.
If you want more information you can always ask your nail care technician and the American Academy of Dermatologists have some information as well. If you have an ingrown toenail, this is a completely different scenario, and you may need to seek professional medical advice.