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General Nail Care

The purpose of nails is to protect the ends of our fingers and toes from trauma and to help pick things up. Taking good care of your nails and maintaining their cleanliness is very important. As many people talk with their hands they are often seen by many and can represent to others an overall picture of our personal hygiene.

Nails are made up of layers of protein called keratin and can be indicative of our general health. Fingernails on average grow 3.5 mm per month, while toenails grow about 1.6 mm per month, unless there are dietary issues or medical conditions that prevent this.


Our nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems, including liver and kidney disease, heart and lung conditions, anaemia, and diabetes.

Symptoms that could signal nail problems include changes in colour, shape and/or thickness, swelling of the skin around the nails, bleeding or discharge, and pain.

See your Chiropodist or Podiatrist for the successful diagnosis and treatment of nail problems.

Tips for keeping nails healthy

  • Keep nails clean by using a simple mild soap, warm water and gentle use of a nail brush then dry to prevent bacteria from collecting under the nail.
  • The use of a specialised moisturiser, or hand and nail product may be useful in keeping skin and nails hydrated and healthy.
  • Cut your fingernails and toenails straight across and rounded slightly in the edges. This will keep your nails strong and help you avoid ingrown toenails.
  • When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak feet in warm salt water (one teaspoon of salt per pint of water) for 5 to 10 minutes, and then cut them straight across.
  • Wear proper-fitting shoes and alternate shoes on a regular basis. Tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails.
  • Do not bite your fingernails; this can transfer infectious organisms between your fingers and mouth. Nail biting also can damage the skin around your fingers, allowing infections to enter.
  • Apply a cream to moisturize your nails, especially after removing nail polish, since most polish removers contain chemicals that dry the nails.
  • If you want to wear a bright red or orange polish, prevent discoloration by applying an extra layer of base coat. If your nails become yellowed and discoloured from the polish, they should return to their normal colour over several weeks if the same polish is not reapplied.

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Making an appointment

Footprint Surgery is open 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday. We will always do our best to accommodate urgent or short-notice appointments.