Nail Care and Infections

The nails serve as a protective sheath over the fingers and toes, and keeping them healthy begins with basic nutrition and a caring for overall health. Problems with toe and finger nails can be caused by several conditions, many of which can be prevented with proper nail care. Some problems are indicative of medical conditions, such as diabetes, malnutrition, and chronic organ diseases. These can include changes in the growth rate and discoloration. If these changes appear or persist with proper nail care, it is worthwhile to see a doctor about exploring possible underlying problems.

Preventing Common Problems
The pain of ingrown nails and unsightly appearance of nail fungus are the most common problems people experience. Both can be dealt with through cautious hygiene and basic nail care. The best treatment for any condition is always prevention, and ingrown nails can be prevented by trimming nails regularly, wearing comfortable shoes, and protecting the feet and hands from trauma.

Nail fungus can also be prevented, though it does require more diligence. Washing the feet regularly and keeping nails trimmed is the most important step. This will allow for early detection and treatment in case of fungal infection. Fungus prefers warm and damp conditions for growth, so every effort should be made to keep feet dry. Changing socks or hosiery more than once a day, wearing breathable shoes, and avoiding tight socks and hosiery will all help keep the feet dry. Minimizing exposure to fungal pathogens in public places, by wearing shower shoes for instance, and disinfecting nail care instruments will reduce risk of infection.

Treating Ingrown or Infected Nails
There are products available to treat ingrown nails at home, but any sign of infection should be seen by a doctor. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes or circulatory disorders, make it important to see a doctor before the risk of infection. First aid should consist of soaking in warm salt water followed by application of antiseptic and bandage.

Fungal infections can be extremely persistent. Though there are at-home treatments, many doctors now use laser treatment, which is proven safe and effective.