Welcome to Singapore, a country with one season. Hot, humid with the chance of thunderstorms! Whilst we love to wear our flip-flops in this balmy weather, they have no protection for our sensitive toenails. In the following segment, we will discuss the more common toenail conditions and give you some useful tips on prevention.
Athletes Foot and Fungal Nails
Fungal infection is the most common of all the skin and nail conditions. It is characterized by itchy, flaky skin and a white, brown, or yellow discoloration of the toenail. Pedicures are a common source of nail infections. The following tips will help keep your nails healthy;
- Keep your feet healthy by bathing them using soap and warm water, especially between the toes and then dry them thoroughly after cleaning.
- If you have to wear shoes, wear light breathable socks along with a suitable shoe. Alternate shoes and make sure they’re dry when you put them on.If not, stuffing newspaper into them will help draw out the moisture.
- Washing your socks in boiling water will kill any fungus that is present.
Onychocryptosis (Ingrown toe nail)
This painful condition occurs when the edge of the toenail, grows into the fleshy part of the toe. Signs include pain, redness, swelling and often discharge. The ingrown nail is usually unseen, because it is below the skin. Your Podiatrist can clear this out using special instruments, with minimal discomfort. Two of the biggest causes of ingrown toe nails are wearing shoes that are too tight and incorrect nail cutting technique. To help minimize this risk;
- Cut toenails straight across and then use a file to smooth the corners.
- A well fitted shoe is essential and any reputable shoe shop will assist in selecting the right size for your foot. A broad rounded shoe is preferable to a narrow pointed toe and helps to reduce pressure on the nail.
Black and Blue Nails
Nails will change colour (black/blue) and shape (thickened) following trauma, often from tight running shoes or something being dropped on your foot. In most cases the nail will return to its normal shape and colour after 9 months. If the nail becomes troublesome however, it may need to be trimmed or in some cases removed by your podiatrist. The colour and thickness of your nails is a good indicator of your overall health, and if there is anything unusual, then consult your podiatrist. Shoes play a big part in decreasing trauma to your nails, so bearing this in mind;
- Make sure the fit is correct, ill fitting running shoes are a major contributor to discoloured/damaged nails
- Wear the right shoe for the occasion, don’t wear flip flops when playing soccer.
Peter Barker, Podiatrist