We usually don’t think about our nails too much. We may or may not keep them classy and pretty, but in terms of their overall health, we don’t pay much attention to them.
Nails are a layer of hardened keratin that protects and supports the tissues of our fingers and toes. It’s important to keep them strong and healthy. It is important to develop good nail art habits.
To keep your nails healthy, dermatologists recommend:
- Keep your nails clean and dry. This will prevent bacteria and other infectious organisms from accumulating under the nail.
- Trim or file nails and use a nail file to slightly round the tips for maximum strength. Always use clean (sterilized) sharp nail clippers, sanitized nail clippers, or a clean glass nail file to ensure you are using sterile equipment. Filing the nails into points weakens them.
- Keep nails in shape and snag-free.
- Avoid biting your nails and never remove cuticles.
- Trim your toenails regularly to keep them short.
- If your toenails are too thick, soak your feet in warm salt water (one teaspoon of salt per pint of water) for 5 to 10 minutes. Gently dry your feet using a patting motion, then apply a urea or lactic acid cream. This will soften the nails and make them easier to trim.
- Avoid “picking out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are already infected and painful. See a dermatologist or podiatrist for treatment. (Cut ingrown nails – if the ingrown nail is not too deep, just slightly sore, not inflamed, you can cut a small “V” in the middle of the edge of the nail, this will help relieve the pressure of the ingrown nail and the nail will usually grow back. Cutting those little “V”s off your toenails can help prevent ingrown toenails.)
- Wear shoes that fit well and rotate between pairs. Pointy toes can make toenails worse, so be sure to change shoe styles to free your toes from pointy stilettos.
- Report nail abnormalities to a dermatologist or doctor. Nail swelling, pain, and color changes can indicate a serious problem.
- If you have diabetes or poor circulation, be extra vigilant about nail problems. See a doctor at the first sign of a problem.