Caring for toenails may seem like an insignificant job, but these small parts of your body can cause big problems. Without proper care, toes can quickly become sources of pain, infection, and serious health problems. This is especially true for people with diabetes who are more prone to foot injuries. They have less sensation in their feet, a condition known as peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes can also reduce blood flow to parts of the body and can lead to toe, foot, or leg amputations.

 

Apart from the above mentioned issues, the most commonly faced foot problems include toenail pain due to ingrown toenails, toenail fungus and flaky skin on the legs. While the most common instinct is to wait until the problem goes away on its own, here are a few expert tips on how to care for your toenails.

4 STEPS TO HEALTHIER TOENAILS

Step 1: Soak your feet in a foot bath in a clean room temperature water. This is optional, but it softens the skin and nails, making the process easier. ( if you are a diabetic, and have wounds/ulcers in your foot, avoid this step)

Step 2: Make sure your feet are dried thoroughly before you move on to the next step.

Step 3: Clip your toenails with toenail clippers. These were designed for use on toenails and are your best bet for a clean and even cut across the nail. While clipping:

Cut the nails straight across (you can gently file sharp edges afterwards to avoid cutting off too much by accident).

Don’t cut nails too short. A properly cut toenail stays above the skin, never being so short that the skin is higher than the nail.

Step 4: Use an emery board or nail file to smooth out any uneven edges. This is the best way to cut your nail smoothly without over-clipping because you need “just one more” cut to get them straight without filing.

 

THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • Cut your nails at least once a month. Keep your toenails short and clean to avoid infection.
  • Use a toenail clipper to cut your toenails. Toenail clippers are specifically designed to cut toenails and will help you avoid injury.
  • Wash your feet daily. Keeping your feet clean is an important part of avoiding complications like warts or fungus.
  • Cut your toenails straight across and file the edges into a rounded shape. This avoids jagged edges that could get caught and cause ingrown nails.
  • Don’t poke, push, or cut your cuticles. Cuticles are a protective layer that keeps infection away from your nail bed. It is best to leave them in place.
  • Change your socks daily. Wet, warm feet help the fungus grow, so keep your feet dry and clean.
  • Wear flipflops in public showers or pool areas. It may be tempting to go barefoot, but with bare feet, you may expose yourself to fungus or germs that can cause foot problems.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Avoid shoes that pinch, apply too much pressure, or cause blisters.

If for some reason you can’t reach your feet because of pregnancy or obesity or encounter any challenges, ask for help. Anyone with diabetes, fungal infection of the nails, ingrown toenails or minor foot injury or other abnormalities, it might be a good idea to see a foot specialist.