The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Podiatrist Tips on Prepping Your Toenails to See the Light of Day

Posted by on Monday, April 21st, 2014


It’s been a tremendously long, cold winter for just about everyone in the country — whether you live in New York or California. You may just have a little extra time to prep your toenails this year before sandal season officially arrives. Depending on what you find upon taking off those shoes and socks, there are several things pay close attention to in order to make sure your toenails receive the care they deserve to look healthy. I like to treat myself to a pedicure to help get me off to a good start in making sure my nails are taken care of all spring and summer, but it’s also important to consider advice from medical foot wellness professionals, as well. Podiatrists from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine have some advice for getting your feet up to par and those toenails ready for some time in the sun.

Are your nails dry and brittle?

About 20% of podiatry patients come in with dry, brittle nails. When keratin production is slowed or inhibited, portions of the nail can break off, causing pain or ingrown toenails. On top of that, the nails just look unappealing. Causes of frail nails include: aging, swimming frequently, anemia, hypothyroidism, iron deficiency, skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, circulation problems, exposure to chemicals like acetone and toluene, soaking the feet for more than 10 minutes at a time, and failing to allow the nails breathing room in between periods of polish coverage.

Treatment involves addressing the root cause of your dry, brittle nails, which is why it’s important to see a professional who can help you identify contributing factors. We may also recommend that you use a vitamin-enrichment product containing Biotin — like Theranail oral supplement — which will stimulate new cell growth and strengthen the nail when used once a day for several months. Another treatment is called the Keryflex Nail Restoration System, which requires a podiatrist to place a resin over your unsightly nails while new, healthy nails grow in.

toenail trimming
Are your toenails misshapen? Learning proper trimming methods can help you with this problem.
Image Source: Renee Cannon via

Are your nails misshapen?

We don’t see our toes as often in the winter months, so it’s easy to forget about their routine maintenance. Failing to keep up with toenail trimming can cause ingrown toenails, breakage, soft tissue wounds, or other types of nail trauma. An even bigger issue is that many patients tell us they are unsure how to clip their nails properly.

Since not everyone can afford regular pedicures, we offer the following tips:

– Use a large toenail clipper, rather than fingernail clippers.

– Do your clipping when the nails are dry for a smoother snip.

– Cut the nails straight across, leaving them a little long.

– Rather than clipping all in one shot, make a few small cuts to get across the nail.

– File any sharp edges with an emery board, moving gently in the same direction.

– Leave your cuticles alone or use an orange stick to gently push them back.

abnormal toenail
This is not a normal toenail!
Image Source:

Are Your Nails Yellow?

It may be tempting to assume your nails have turned yellow because they’ve been cooped up in socks all winter long. While nails do tend to yellow slightly as we age, yellow nails are more likely the sign of a fungal infection. Onychomycosis (toenail fungus) does not usually cause pain, but it is certainly ugly and embarrassing. In some cases, unattended nail fungus leads to secondary bacterial infections, damage to the nail matrix, or pain when walking. Toenail fungus is contracted when you come into contact with a certain type of dermatophyte and a small cut provides entry into the body. Perspiration trapped inside the shoe creates the sort of warm, damp, dark environment where fungi loves to thrive, so it’s no surprise that an estimated one in ten adults will contract a fungal foot infection.

As the weather continues to warm, sandal season will soon be upon us. Make sure you’re taking steps now to prepare your feet and toes for their yearly debut. We offer multiple treatment options at our New York podiatrist office. Very mild cases of toenail fungus may be treated with over-the-counter antifungal agents and debridement (removal of infected nail debris). Most patients will require an oral antifungal like terbinafine, which you’ll need to take daily for three months. We also offer the latest technology to treat foot fungus, such as laser toenail fungus removal. In just one or two brief sessions, the fungus will be killed and a new healthy nail will begin growing in. Book an appointment with a NYC podiatrist today!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.