Foot Health Week – Caring for your feet!

Foot Health Week – Caring for your feet!

1. How fast do toenails grow?

Toenails grow about 1.6 mm per month on average which is less than half the rate of fingernails  which grow  about 3.5 mm per month

2. How long does it take to grow a toenail?

It takes about 12 – 18 months for a big toe nail to regrow fully after you lose the nail.

3. Why do toenails grow so slowly?

The short answer is blood supply. Fingers have a better more oxygen rick blood supply than toes. The greatest distance that blood has to travel from your heart is the tips of your toes.

4. What factors affect nail growth?

Overall health, nutrition, and proper nail care can affect growth rates. There are no special lotion or nail polish that make the nails grow faster, in fact, some products with harsh chemicals can damage nail health.

5. How should I look after toenails?

Start with a balanced diet. Iron deficiency can lead to brittle nails along with not enough protein. Zinc is also important for healthy nails. Calcium which is good for bone health does not have much effect on  nail growth. Biotin a Vitamin B complex may help strengthen brittle nails. Dry skin also means dry nails so regular use of a moisturizer. Extreme dryness can cause the skin around the nails to split which can allow bacteria, fungus, and other infections to enter. Just as extreme dryness is a problem so are excessively moist sweaty feet, so manage perspiration with medicated powders, socks and shoes. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to permanently thickened nails by damaging the nail matrix and nail bed.   Do not push cuticles back as this can break the seal between the nail and the skin which can allow bacteria and fungus to enter the matric which is the growing part of the nail. Some chronic diseases such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, psoriasis, eczema and vascular disease can affect nail growth so managing these diseases will be important for healthy nails

6. Nail grooming, what does this involve?

Start with the appropriate tools.  A nail file and a good pair of nail clippers will last a lifetime. A plier type of nail clipper will be strong and have a scissor action that will cut the nail and less likely to splinter the nail especially if they are brittle or thick. Cut toenails after a shower or bath as they will be softer and easier to cut. Best to trim the nails to the shape of the end of the toes and round the corners with a file so there are no sharp edges. Good nail clippers have slightly curved blades to allow for this. Nails do not have to be “ruler-straight” but do avoid cutting down the side of the nail as this can leave rough edges and spicules that can puncture the flesh and lead to infections.

7. When should I seek professional help for nails?

Pain, and infection should be dealt with immediately. It is always best to seek advice for anything that looks unusual.