Why You Should Take A Break From Toenail Polish

toenail polish and nail healthIn the spring and summer, ladies break out the strappy sandals and flip flops and likewise groom their feet with lovely shades of nail polish. When your toenails are on display and looking great in every hue, it can be easy to forget that your toenails need a break from toenail polish every now and then.

Believe it or not, toenails are not impermeable. They absorb a lot of chemicals that are found in nail polish. In fact, they are even more permeable than skin. It is for this reason that when toenails are left painted for long periods of time and then the polish is removed, the nails are left with a yellowed, chalky, stained appearance and are brittle and dry. The top layers of the toenail absorb the pigment from the nail polish and dry out the nail itself. While the top of the nail becomes dry, the part of the nail underneath the nail plate can trap in yeast, bacteria, and mold. Naturally, these can easily lead to an infection underneath the nail.

The specialists here at Triad Foot Center recommend that if you paint your toenails, it is best to leave the paint on until it’s time for it to be removed (around 2-3 weeks in most cases), and then allow an equal amount of time for your toenails to be left natural. This includes not putting on a clear topcoat of polish. This lets the toenails breathe and allows air to reach the nail bed. During this time, keep the feet as dry as possible, wearing breathable shoes such as sandals or vented sneakers with clean, dry socks.

If the toenails look dry, cracked and brittle from long-term polish use, you can apply a vitamin E oil or lotion, rubbing it gently into the nail and cuticle to moisturize them. Allow it to absorb and dry fully before wearing shoes. In some cases, discolored toenails that are dry and cracked could be a sign of a toenail fungus, so if you aren’t sure, it’s best to see a podiatrist for an evaluation.

Discoloration from polish use will usually grow out over time. A gentle filing may buff of the top layer of the nail and lessen discoloration, but it will not remove severe discoloration or an underlying toenail condition.

It can be tempting to cover up discolored or unsightly toenails with nail polish so the feet look more attractive, but by allowing the toenails to be oxygenated and leaving them periodically unpainted, they receive the crucial air exposure they need to stay healthy. Request an appointment with one of our podiatric specialists today for a foot exam by clicking here or call any of our convenient office locations in the Piedmont Triad.

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