Many people pay little attention to their toenails until they realize they have a nail problem. Nail health should never be overlooked, and there are a few basic maintenance procedures that should be incorporated into your daily routine. Healthy nails are attractive nails, and as we move through winter towards spring and open toed shoes, more people will be working to maximize the appearance of their toenails.

First and foremost, a good diet will encourage nail health. Nails are made out of keratin, and a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals allows them to develop well. Lack of proper nutrients can cause weak and discolored toenails (and also fingernails), which break easily and are often unsightly. Incorporating things like beans, seeds and nuts, and leafy green vegetables into your daily menu will have a positive effect on your entire body, not just your nails.

Combined with the right diet, another basic way to achieve healthy nails is to wash your feet every day. This doesn’t mean simply letting the water hit them while in the shower—there must be a separate process for cleaning the feet. Mildly warm water and antibacterial soap should be used to wash under and between the toes, and then afterwards a towel must be used to dry the feet and toes properly. It is important to make sure that all moisture is eliminated after washing because wet feet are a breeding ground for toenail fungus.

The most common mistake people make pertaining to their toenails is clipping them incorrectly. Toenails should always be cut straight across, never down the sides, because it can lead to ingrown toenails. Clipping them too short can also cause ingrown nails to develop.

A final tip is to always keep your feet covered when in public areas where other people’s feet are often exposed, such as at the pool or in a locker room. Making sure they do not make contact with the floor will prevent the spread of various kinds of toenail funguses and even warts.

If you would like more information about proper toenail care or would like to make an appointment for an ingrown toenail, nail fungus, or other concern, call Dr. Ken Lefkowitz at his Doylestown office, Quality Foot Care.