Toenail problems can be very debilitating. As with many things, prevention is better than cure. Here are our top 5 tips for ensuring your toenails stay strong and healthy.
1. Watch what you eat
Nails are made from a protein called Keratin. Food that helps with the production of Keratin include beans, seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Make sure you have plenty of these in your diet if you want strong, healthy nails.
Eat green leafy vegetables to keep nails strong
2. Keep a close eye on them
Feet can alert you to health problems at an early stage. Diabetes, arthritis, poor blood circulation and nerve damage can all have a noticeable effect on the feet or toenails.
Try and check your feet and nails a couple of times a week. Look for redness, bruises, swelling, blisters and in-grown or infected nails. A toenail in good condition should be light pink in colour and have a nice natural 'shine' to it. If bending is a problem, using a long-handled mirror will help. If you find anything of concern, make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist.
3. Cut nails regularly and carefully
Trim your toenails regularly with good quality toenail clippers:
- Nails should be cut straight across - never down the sides or around the top.
- Cutting down the sides encourages in-growing toenails.
- Don’t cut them too short – they should be long enough to protect toes from pressure and trauma.
- Cutting them too short can also encourage ingrowing toenails.
If you find it difficult to cut your nails, we recommend contacting a podiatrist. Alternatively, Age Concern run a toenail cutting services in many areas. Trained professionals will deal with your feet and whilst there is still a charge, it is less than private podiatrists.
4. Give them some air!
When you can, wear open-toed leather sandals to get your toes out into the fresh air. Some shoes can build up a large amount of heat making it easier for fungal attack. If you wear sports shoes, make sure they are of good quality and have internal ventilation.
Wear leather, open-toed sandals when you can
5. Avoid fungal infections
A fungal infection in the toenail is often caused by a skin infection such as athlete's foot. Fungi grow and thrive in warm, damp environments. An infection is more likely to occur after wearing trainers for long periods or if you often have hot, sweaty feet.
To avoid infection, choose breathable footwear made from material such as leather. The more air that’s able to circulate around your feet, the drier and less susceptible to toenail fungus you’ll be.
Avoid going barefoot in public areas. Public swimming pools and showers are loaded with fungi just waiting to get to your toes. If you have a fungal infection, there are products such as Clearzal® which can help.