There tends to be a negative stigma with the feet. Even things such as unmanicured nails, or dirt beneath the toenails, can become a source of embarrassment. As a result, we tend to cover up our feet or hide our nails with polish more than we’d like to. But, there’s much more to consider here than just vanity. When it comes to how to keep toenails clean and healthy, your health is the number one priority.
Believe it or not, the health of your toenails is extremely important. Because we cover up our feet quite often, they are also easy to ignore. That makes it easy for infection and bacteria to grow. Often, we don’t notice things like that until it has spread, and gotten worse.
There are plenty of treatment options for such problems. Most health issues associated with the feet can be prevented with enhanced personal hygiene. Keep in mind that nothing is 100% preventable. But, by keeping your toenails strong and healthy, you’re creating the best defense. So, what are some easy ways to get clean and healthy toenails?
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Why Keeping Toenails Clean and Healthy Matters
First, understand that it’s not uncommon for nails/feet to get dirty in the first place. After all, think about what they ‘do’ all day. Even if you constantly wear shoes and socks, your toenails are essentially ‘trapped.’
Unfortunately, that ‘entrapment’ can create problems as well, such as toenail fungus. Keeping your toenails clean, and keeping them healthy go hand in hand. However, there are a few different practices you can do at home to take care of both.
How to Maintain Clean Toenails
Keeping your toenails clean is a fairly easy process, with just a few simple steps. It doesn’t have to feel like ‘work.’ Treat yourself to these different methods as though you’re at a spa, and you’ll love the process of keeping your toenails clean.
- Wash your feet and nails: This may seem pretty straightforward, but it’s important. Thoroughly washing your feet and toes with warm water will help to get rid of dirt. However, it will also help to fight off against bacteria. If you’ve been wearing shoes/socks all day, it’s extremely important to wash your feet regularly. Consider using a tea tree oil foot soak.
- Use a brush for the hard spots: Simply running soap and water over your nails may not be enough. For hard-to-reach areas under the nails, use a stiff-bristled nail brush. Dirt can easily get trapped under your nails and in the corners. A nail brush with soap can get rid of it.
- Remove dirt under nails with nail file: If you’re clipping your toenails regularly, you probably have a nail file. If there is visible dirt underneath your nails, you can carefully remove it with a file. Take extreme caution in doing this. Any sort of trauma to the nail bed can create problems. So, make sure the tool you’re using is clean, and be gentle and precise.
- Moisturize: Add lotion to your feet after cleaning them. This can help to prevent cracks in your skin and keep the area hydrated.
How to Keep Toenails Healthy
While keeping toenails clean and healthy cross over into similar practices, there are a few extra steps you can take. The health of your toenails is extremely important. Health issues with toenails can quickly grow and spread, and create even bigger problems. While cleanliness alone will help to prevent any of these issues, keep these extra solutions in mind to keep your toenails strong:
- Keep nails trimmed: Keeping your toenails neatly trimmed will help to prevent dirt and moisture from getting trapped underneath. When moisture is locked beneath the nail, you run the risk of a fungal infection. The shorter the nail, the harder it will be for bacteria to get trapped.
- Change shoes each day: It’s a good idea to change your shoes every day. If you can, alternate which shoes you wear every other day. That gives each pair a chance to ‘air out’ for a full 24 hours. So, any moisture trapped within has a chance to evaporate. Alternatively, you could use UV rays to kill fungal spores in your shoes. This is the most effective way to remove contaminants from your footwear.
- Wear clean socks. The same goes for socks – especially if your feet sweat excessively. Keep a clean pair of antifungal socks with you when you can, and change them out if necessary.
- Wear flip-flops at home: There is nothing wrong with wearing socks or slippers around the house. However, being home is one of the only times most of us can freely expose our feet and toes to the open air. This keeps moisture at bay again, and allows your toenails to ‘air out.’
- Apply powder. Use antifungal foot powder to keep your feet dry and kill any fungus that’s between your toes/under the nails.
- Treat existing conditions. If you do have any foot-related condition, such as toenail fungus, verrucas, etc., get them treated before they have a chance to spread. Of course, you should make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly following application.
The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Toenails
You wouldn’t let a build-up of dirt, grease, etc. occur on your face. It could cause acne and other skin conditions. Think of your feet and toenails the same way. If you don’t keep them properly cleaned, you’re opening yourself up to a world of unsightly and potentially harmful conditions. Just because your toenails aren’t as regularly exposed compared to other parts of your body doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
As you can see, keeping toenails healthy is a fairly easy process. By paying more attention to our toenails, we can prevent so many potential problems. So, instead of trying to cover your feet constantly, make a point to ‘pamper’ them as often as possible. Some of the simple solutions above can make your toenails look better, cleaner, and of course, can prevent unsightly infections from taking hold.