Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Toenail Care

Our feet are subject to a lot of use and often, abuse. This in turn leads to a number of foot problems. Those who have suffered from these problems in the past quickly learn the importance of proper foot care and try to follow a regular care regimen. Even then, there is one area where people often make mistakes and that is in caring for the toenails. Keeping the toenails trimmed and shaped correctly can help to prevent many unwanted foot conditions.

The Length: While toenail length is often dictated by style and fashion, the best length for them is just even with the tip of the toes. Any longer and there is a risk of them hitting against the front of the shoe. Usually this contact is very slight and cannot be felt. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet the repeated pressure and impact can become a source of pain and soreness.  If this situation is allowed to persist, the results can be swelling of the toes and even a toenail coming off. The other extreme of cutting the nails too short is also not a good idea. If the nails are cut too close to the end of the toes there is a risk of the soft tissue under the nail and at the tip of the toe getting cut. This is not only painful; the cuts can also lead to infections and even ingrown toenails.

The Shape: There are many ways in which fingernails can be shaped. It often happens that people try to duplicate the fingernail shape with the toes as well. This may be a mistake. The best way to cut the toenails is straight across with no curve. While the finger nails can be cut along the curve of the finger tip, doing so with the toes nails can lead to problems. As the toenails grow the rounded corners that follow the shape of the tip of the toes can cut into the soft skin that is around the edge of the nail. This is not only painful; the cut also opens the door to all kinds of infections. In addition, the skin could start to grow over the edge of the nail leading to an ingrown toenail.

The Edge: Smoothening off the edges of the toenails may seem like a waste of time, but there are good reasons why it is worth the effort. First of all, neat edges look good. Next, without rough and jagged edges the chances of the nails getting snagged on sock or pantyhose is reduced. This will help to prevent the nails being yanked and possibly injured as the garments are removed and also to protect the garments themselves from damage.

The Cuticles: The cuticles play an important role in stabilizing and anchoring the nails to the toes. They also form a seal that prevents bacteria from getting into the skin. Overgrown cuticles must be dealt with carefully to prevent injuries and damage to the cuticle area. In most cases the toes can be soaked to soften the cuticles which can then be gently pushed back. Once this is done, they can be wiped off with a towel or a clean piece of cloth. If this does not work, a cuticle pusher can be used to push them back. A cuticle nipper can then be used to trim off the excess. Rubbing a suitable lotion or oil into the cuticles will keep them soft, healthy and hydrated to make caring for them easier.

If toenail problems do arise, it is best to consult a podiatrist to have the conditions treated in the right way.

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