How to Improve Toenail Health & Increase Growth

Healthy toenails look and feel good.
Healthy toenails look and feel good. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Healthy toenails are an important part of good general health. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nail problems are responsible for about 10 percent of all dermatological problems. The condition of the nail can indicate the state of a person's general health. Keeping the toenail healthy is an important step in preventing an infection or circulation problem that could become serious.

Keep feet clean and dry. Bacteria and fungi thrive in a moist or damp environment. Keeping the feet clean and dry helps to prevent the growth of these organisms. If possible, wear shower shoes in public showers, locker rooms and pools. Wash feet with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Change socks daily, or more often if feet have a tendency to sweat excessively. Tight socks and hose promote and trap moisture; wear a stocking with a looser fit.

Cut toenails regularly. Keep toenails trimmed and cut the nail straight across. Cut the nail after a bath or shower. This makes the nail easier to cut and less likely to split. Do not cut the nail so short as to damage the skin. Do not share your nail clippers and tools. Disinfect the tools used to cut nails after each use. If any cuts occur, disinfect and apply a bandage to avoid infection. If you have extremely thick nails, do not attempt to thin them out. This could be due to a fungal infection. Have your doctor evaluate the nail for problems. Ingrown toenails are a common foot problem. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, ingrown toenails may be due to heredity, but also from cutting nails improperly, wearing shoes that do not fit and trauma to the feet. This condition should be evaluated by a doctor.

Inspect nails for any problems. White spots and vertical ridges in the nail are normal. Horizontal ridges, flattening or thickening of the nail, swelling, bleeding, pus, pain, or discoloration are problems that need to be evaluated by a doctor. If you have a nail problem and a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease, that affects circulation, have a doctor evaluate your nails. It may be necessary that your nail care be provided by a Podiatrist. Chronic problems with athlete's foot can also cause damage to the toenail. Consult a doctor if this is a problem for you.

Wear shoes that fit correctly. Crowded feet perspire more than feet that have adequate space to breathe. Tight shoes impair circulation and put pressure on the toenail causing damage. A damaged nail bed is susceptible to infection and circulation issues. If possible, change shoes throughout the day and alternate shoes throughout the week.

Make dietary changes. To promote toenail growth, Total Foot Wellness recommends cutting back on foods such as sugar, saturated fats, alcohol and dairy.

Increase your intake of protein, zinc, calcium, vitamins A,B,C,D,E, says Total Foot Wellness.

Tips & Warnings

  • Conditions of the toenail can indicate serious underlying health issues such as anemia, diabetes, liver, kidney, lung or heart problems.

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