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Our feet are often overlooked as a body part in need of some TLC. But a lot of us are on our feet most of the day, and our poor soles, heels and toes need some looking after.
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1. Give your toes some love
‘Make time for a regular pedicure appointment. I give my feet some much needed TLC once a month,’ says Ginny. ‘If you prefer to DIY when it comes to a pedi, make sure you contour the nail to the toe shape. Don’t be tempted to cut straight across or you’ll have corners that stick out and damage adjacent toes. Likewise, if you cut deep down the side of a nail it can cause nail trauma and ingrowing toe nails.’
2. It’s all about moisturising
‘Do this ideally two to three times a week,’ Ginny tells us. ‘I apply moisturiser after showering and before bed and I wear cotton bed socks to help the moisturiser sink in properly.’
3. Be careful of blisters
‘I can’t afford to get blisters in my line of work so I have about a dozen pairs of loafer socks in a bunch of different shades – black, brown, tan, nude. They prevent rubbing and keep my feet fresh,’ Ginny tells us.
Lindsey Clark, Head of Garment and Shoe Tech at Long Tall Sally, says, ‘The daily commute can be hell on your feet so the right fit is essential. Our research shows that 32% of women are wearing the wrong size shoes, which can cause calluses, corns and blisters. Our advice is to head to a shoe shpo to get your feet measured and always try on multiple sizes and styles for the perfect fit.’
4. Think carefully about heels
‘If you must wear heels, don’t walk in them. Sit down and look gorgeous!’ Lindsey says. ‘Seriously, keep the heel as low as possible and opt for a shoe with an ankle strap to hold the foot in place. Wearing really high heels should be for occasions and events, not general wear.’
5. Keep fungus at bay
‘People forget this, but it’s important to let your nails breath in between pedicures by removing nail varnish completely between applications,’ warns Ginny. ‘As well as this, if you’re a regular gym goer or swimmer, you could be at risk from fungal infections. Fungus loves warm, moist conditions like sweaty trainers (hence the link with athlete’s foot), so always change your socks and dry your feet thoroughly after washing, including between your toes.’
‘An application of tea tree oil after activity will keep infections at bay too,’ adds Jane Faulkner, Lead Podiatrist at Sole Sister in Brighton. ‘And remember, fungus can live in shoes as well, so if you do have an infection you need to treat them. As a general rule of thumb, try not to wear the same shoes every day and let them dry out between wearings.’
6. Care for your cuticles
‘Looking after your toenails is only part of the regime,’ Ginny tells us. ‘But don’t forget those cuticles too! I swear by Sally Hansen’s Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil. I put it on my fingers and toes.’
Jane Faulkner adds a word of caution about pushing cuticles back though. ‘This can create an entry portal for infection,’ she warns us. ‘An infected nail base is called paronychia and is really painful. Your best bet? If cuticles need cutting, get a podiatrist to do it for you.’
7. Ward off discolouration
If you’re wanting to avoid yellow nails, always use a base coat,’ Ginny tells us. ‘Discolouration is usually the result of dark nail polish.’
8. Know when to go to a pro
‘Sometimes it’s time to admit defeat and go to see a pro instead,’ Ginny tells us. ‘If I ever have an ingrown toenail or a callus, I head straight to my podiatrist. I’d rather get issues treated medically than risk a potential infection. As a rule, if it hurts, it won’t go away on its own. But if your feet are problem free, then treat your podiatrist like the dentist, with a six to 12 monthly check up.’
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Caring For Your Toenails
Caring for your toenails is just as important as caring for your fingernails. Whilst they might not be as immediately visible well cared for toenails make your feet more comfortable and prevent problems such as fungal nail infections.
Caring For Your Cuticles
Some aspects of caring for your toenails are very obvious, such as cutting them properly, others are less so. The duticles on your toenails need just as much care as those on your fingernails. There is a temptation to just cut them away, this is not a good idea – better to leave them untouched. Just as you would with your fingers, apply a good cuticle cream or foot cream and when they have softened push them gently back with a properly shaped stick. Don’t push them back too hard or too far or you can cause them to tear which can lead to infections.
Cutting Your Toenails
Nails should be cut straight across using well maintained sharp clippers. The best time to clip them is when the nails are softer as they are following a bath or foot soak. If you want them to be slightly curved then you should gently round off the edges using an emery board, but always cut straight and finish with an emery board.
If you have difficulty cutting your toenails, or you have underlying foot conditions or fungal infection, it is better to have your nails cut by a Podiatrist. Incorrect cutting will cause further problems which can be very painful.
How Long Should Toenails Be?
Ideally you should leave 1-2 millimetres of nail when you clip them. Nails grow at around 2mm per month so cutting them every 4 – 8 weeks is ideal. It can be difficult to trim your toenails properly.
Using Nail Polish
If you use nail polish then make sure you clean off the old polish properly using a gently remover, preferably without acetone which can be very drying for the nails. Some nail polishes do stain toenails if they are left on for too long and cause discolouration. This is not harmful but can be a little unsightly. However you should let your toenails have a breather every now and then. Ideally leave them free of polish for at least a week every now and then. This allows the nail to breathe and recover from the chemicals in the polish.
Toenail fungus, which causes a thickening of the nails, is surprisingly common. If you have this it is best to get it treated by your Podiatrist. Whilst there are over the counter treatments, most fungal infections are bedded deeply into the nail and need to be professionally treated. Cutting nails that have a fungal infection is also not easy to do yourself and may cause further damage to the nail so is best done by a professional.
Ingrown toenails are often the result of poor trimming of your toenails. Cutting them too short is one of the most common causes and can be extremely painful. The nail can cut into the side of the nail bed causing infections which can be very dangerous for people with underlying conditions such as Diabetes.
Looking after your toenails does not take much effort but will reward you with feet that both look and feel good.