Thursday, 30 January 2014

Give Yourself a Perfect Pedicure

Pedicures are often seen as a purely cosmetic procedure. But there is more to the pedicure than this. Pedicures help to keep the feet clean and healthy, besides looking nice. A busy lifestyle and the cost of a professional pedicure can often cause people to ignore the need for regular pedicures. The simple steps that follow will allow you to give yourself a quick and economical pedicure at home whenever it is convenient.
  • Clean your feet regularly. This does not mean just washing your feet when you bathe. Use a special nail brush to clean around and under the toenails to remove stubborn grime and dirt that has accumulated.
  • Remove dead and dry skin by soaking the feet in warm (not hot) water for about 5 minutes and then using a pumice stone or foot file to scrub away the skin from the soles of the feet. Follow this with an application of hydrating cream or lotion to keep the skin soft.
  • Smooth over the calluses. Calluses are the body’s way of protecting the feet by forming a protective layer of skin over those parts that are under pressure like the heels and the balls of the feet. A certain amount of callusing should be retained to ensure that the protection of your feet need is retained. But excessive callusing and dry and cracked skin should be removed to prevent a painful callus build up. The method used to smoothen out calluses will depend on how severe the problem is. For very thick calluses and hard dry cracked skin a heavy duty foot smoother or suitable file can be used. Lighter calluses and dry but not cracked skin can usually be removed by using a regular foot file or pumice stone. These lighter files and pumice stones can also be used to provide the final finish after a heavier tool has been used to remove thicker calluses. Once the calluses have been smoothened, regular scrubbing will prevent a recurring build of excess hard and dry skin. Keep in mind that the objective is to keep the calluses smooth, not to remove them completely.
  • Use a deep penetrating cream or lotion to moisturize the skin of the feet to keep it soft and supple. Pay special attention to the soles of the feet including the heels and the balls of the foot. Apply the cream to the cuticles also to keep them soft and easy to shape.
  • To control excess cuticle build up, soak the toes in warm water for a few minutes and use a towel or washcloth to push them back towards the base of the toenails. If this does not work, a special cuticle pusher can be used. If there is an excessive amount of cuticle build up a cuticle nipper can be used to trim them. Be careful only to trim the dead cuticle area and not the live skin that is around the nails.
  • The shape of the toenails is important not just because of appearance but also to prevent them from getting damaged. The best way to cut the nails is trim them in a straight line  so that they are even at the end of the toes. Long nails can hit against the front of the shoes and cause pain and soreness. Nails kept too short can result in painful ingrown toenails that may require a visit to a doctor. Use a toenail clipper or special toenail scissors for the job. Once the nails have been clipped smoothen the edges with a nail file to prevent them snagging on socks or stockings.
Follow these simple steps regularly to keep your feet clean, smooth and healthy.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Toenail Care

Our feet are subject to a lot of use and often, abuse. This in turn leads to a number of foot problems. Those who have suffered from these problems in the past quickly learn the importance of proper foot care and try to follow a regular care regimen. Even then, there is one area where people often make mistakes and that is in caring for the toenails. Keeping the toenails trimmed and shaped correctly can help to prevent many unwanted foot conditions.

The Length: While toenail length is often dictated by style and fashion, the best length for them is just even with the tip of the toes. Any longer and there is a risk of them hitting against the front of the shoe. Usually this contact is very slight and cannot be felt. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet the repeated pressure and impact can become a source of pain and soreness.  If this situation is allowed to persist, the results can be swelling of the toes and even a toenail coming off. The other extreme of cutting the nails too short is also not a good idea. If the nails are cut too close to the end of the toes there is a risk of the soft tissue under the nail and at the tip of the toe getting cut. This is not only painful; the cuts can also lead to infections and even ingrown toenails.

The Shape: There are many ways in which fingernails can be shaped. It often happens that people try to duplicate the fingernail shape with the toes as well. This may be a mistake. The best way to cut the toenails is straight across with no curve. While the finger nails can be cut along the curve of the finger tip, doing so with the toes nails can lead to problems. As the toenails grow the rounded corners that follow the shape of the tip of the toes can cut into the soft skin that is around the edge of the nail. This is not only painful; the cut also opens the door to all kinds of infections. In addition, the skin could start to grow over the edge of the nail leading to an ingrown toenail.

The Edge: Smoothening off the edges of the toenails may seem like a waste of time, but there are good reasons why it is worth the effort. First of all, neat edges look good. Next, without rough and jagged edges the chances of the nails getting snagged on sock or pantyhose is reduced. This will help to prevent the nails being yanked and possibly injured as the garments are removed and also to protect the garments themselves from damage.

The Cuticles: The cuticles play an important role in stabilizing and anchoring the nails to the toes. They also form a seal that prevents bacteria from getting into the skin. Overgrown cuticles must be dealt with carefully to prevent injuries and damage to the cuticle area. In most cases the toes can be soaked to soften the cuticles which can then be gently pushed back. Once this is done, they can be wiped off with a towel or a clean piece of cloth. If this does not work, a cuticle pusher can be used to push them back. A cuticle nipper can then be used to trim off the excess. Rubbing a suitable lotion or oil into the cuticles will keep them soft, healthy and hydrated to make caring for them easier.

If toenail problems do arise, it is best to consult a podiatrist to have the conditions treated in the right way.