Ugly fingernails and toenails are not just a cosmetic concern.
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail, more common in toenails. It causes nails to thicken, discolour, disfigure and split.
Half of all nail disorders are caused by onychomycosis, and it is the most common nail disease in adults, which occurrence is on the increase.
Common causes of nail problems include injury, infection and skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.
Without treatment, toenails can become so thick that they press against the inside of your shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain.
Adults, especially the elderly, are more likely to have onychomycosis than children, and it’s been linked to diabetes and a suppressed immune system.
Some nail conditions need professional treatment from either a doctor or dermatologist, while others respond to simple self-help techniques, minor lifestyle changes and over-the-counter applications.
Tips to great looking fingernails and toenails include:
- good personal hygiene;
- not biting your nails;
- wearing protective gloves for wet jobs (dish washing);
- avoiding harsh chemicals such as strong soaps and detergents;
- taking care using nail polish;
- not cleaning under your nails too often or aggressively;
- not pushing back your own cuticles;
- resisting the urge to bite or tear off hanging nails – use nail clippers;
- moisturising your hands frequently, particularly after washing, and rubbing moisturiser over your nails and cuticles;
- treating any sign of eczema on your hands promptly;
- not sharing towels, drying between your toes thoroughly after bathing, and wearing thongs in communal bathing areas (gym, swimming pool);
- ensuring your shoes are well fitting and have plenty of room for air movement.