What not to do to your toenails, according to a podiatrist

Planning an at-home pedicure? Read this first.

Salon pedicure pending, if you haven’t seen your feet since last summer, chances are you've thought about attempting a DIY pedicure with all your new-found time at home.

Related: the expert guide to safely removing your gel nails at home

Do I need to do anything to my toenails at all, aside from cut them? How long is too long? I asked Alan Ward, podiatrist and physiotherapist at Dublin City Foot Clinic everything you didn't want to know about toenail health.


According to him, keeping your toenails healthy is relatively simple.

“There are three big risks to healthy nails – poor blood supply, often seen in smokers or diabetics, fungal infections and psoriasis, which will often cause pitted, poor quality, “crumbly” nails. In general, regular saltwater bathing and a simple aqueous cream on the skin – but not between toes – should be sufficient.”

Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm, €10

What about the cuticle oil? Ward says, “Nails do not require creams or oils.”

Is there anything we shouldn't allow our nail technician to do to our toes?

In general podiatrists are the only profession fully qualified to treat toenail conditions. We use fully sterile (traceable) instrument packs for each client. We use the latest instruments and nail drills — wet and dry. All our podiatrists hold a 4 year BSc (Hons) degree in Podiatry.


Is cutting the cuticles with scissors okay?

Cuticles (eponychia) should never be "cut" with any instrument. It's there for a reason — the reason is to stop infection (paronychia) entering the nail matrix.

Is it healthy for the toenails to let them grow long? What are the dangers of long toenails, if any?

Often cutting nails too short or down the side of the nail is a bigger problem than nails that are left too long. In general, nails should be left long enough for a small shoulder, or free edge at the distal end of the nail. Nails should be cut to follow the nail shape and filed so as not to have any sharp edges that can cause impaction areas to adjoining toes.

There you have it folks, ditch the cuticle-clipping and file with caution.


Photography by Jason Lloyd Evans.



This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of IMAGE.

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