With the weather we have been having lately, it’s not a surprise that many people are opting for open-toed shoes, or forgoing footwear altogether at the moment. So with our feet on display, many of us are thinking how we can make sure they look and feel as best as they can. But whether you’re showing them off in summer or wrapping them up in winter, taking care of your toenails is something we should all be conscious of. In this blog, we will look at a few of the top tips to help keep your nails beautiful and healthy.
Keep Your Feet Clean
Before you even begin to think about the toenails themselves, you need to think about the environment they are in. Our feet spend significant amounts of time trapped in our socks and shoes, so ensuring that this environment is clean and healthy is fundamental to proper nail care. For most of us, regularly cleaning and changing our shoes and socks will be enough, but if you find that your feet are particularly clammy or hard, there are a few extra steps you can take.
Opting for open toed shoes, such as sandals, gives the skin on the feet a chance to breathe. Foot baths and moisturising your feet will also help keep the skin soft, making it less likely to crack, and can even reduce sweating. All of this makes it much less likely that you will develop a fungal nail infection.
Obviously, we all have to clip our toenails. It’s just a fact of life, and we have been doing it ever since we were kids. But despite how essential this is, and how long we have all been doing it, a huge number of people have a basic but major misunderstanding of toenail clipping. While we may be used to seeing rounded toenails that curve like the toes themselves, when clipping, you should clip in a horizontal line. Cutting the nails into a curve makes it much more likely for them to grow outwards and cut into your skin, which could cause an ingrown toenail and even infection.
The best time to clip you nails is when they are warm and soft, so after a shower or a foot bath. Make sure not to clip them too far down, and while you should never cut your cuticles, you can push them back a bit to look more uniform. Cuticle oil can help soften them to achieve this.
Take a Breather
Depending on personal preference, you may like to have your nails done up with polish and paint. This becomes far more common in summer, which can cause problems. Keratin granulation can develop when nails are constantly covered by cosmetics, and manifests as rough patches of white along the nails. This is because your otherwise healthy nail is coming off with the nail polish, and can also cause nails to become dry, discoloured, or peel. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take a break for at least three weeks, or until the symptoms have cleared up. To avoid this, you should allow your toenails to go bare for at least one week a month.
Don’t Drop the Ball
It can take up to 18 months for a toenail to completely replace itself, so maintain healthy toenails year round is essential. Damaged, infected, or discoloured nails can be treated, but in many cases, the cosmetic difference will only be noticed as the new material grows. In order to avoid a scenario where you are waiting for the problem part to grow away, you should be checking your feet regularly. In the winter months, you need to be more vigilant with changing and cleaning your footwear. Choose socks made of a natural material such as cotton to allow the feet to breathe, add a sprinkle of baking powder to your shoes when they begin to smell, and change your socks daily. You should be cutting your nails about once a month, and address any other problems, be it hard skin or a verruca, as soon as you notice it.
Some people are more concerned with their toenails than others, but we all need to be vigilant. Whether you care how they look or not, toenails are very susceptible to problems such as infection or becoming ingrown, and can take quite a while to heal. Following the above tips will help you avoid any problems, and give you the freedom to choose how much you want to show them off.