About two weeks ago, I shared my regiment for keeping toenail fungus at bay. That post was a big part of what I do, but there are other smaller yet still important habits to keep my toenails looking healthy enough to be shown to the world in open-toe sandals.
Weekly foot hygiene, what should it include?
For one, it is important to remove dead skin cells that harbor fungus on a regular basis. I exfoliate my feet once a week using a foot file, the kind that looks like sandpaper attached to a wooden stick. These foot files can be used on dry feet, but I find it makes a big dusty mess and clogs my foot file too quickly. So, I recommend soaking your feet for 5 minutes either in a basin or during a shower. Then scrub the bottom of your feet with the wet foot file, regularly rinsing both the file and your foot in water. Do this around your toes as well. You want to be careful not to scrub to hard or too much as you can draw blood, and that is not what we are getting at here.
After physical exfoliation, you will want to apply a moisturizer.
Moisturize the soles of your feet and around the cuticles around your toenails. I recommend doing this on a daily basis. Vaseline brand petroleum jelly does a great job of balancing the moisture in your skin and is especially good if your feet tend to sweat a lot. Petroleum jelly gets a lot of flack, and that is because unrefined jelly can contain high levels of cancer causing molecules. This is not the case for Vaseline. In fact, my sister uses it on her face nightly. She looks 10 years younger than she is...and she has been known to partake in smoking cigarettes.
However, some folks prefer to stick to more natural moisturizers, and I totally appreciate that. Pure Lanolin has worked wonders at reducing the dry peeling skin on my toes and around my cuticles. For those of you who have allergies to Lanolin, or prefer to use plant based moisturizers, coconut oil soaks into the skin quite well and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. However, I have found that it doesn't prevent my skin from drying out by the end of the day and eventually having that white peeling skin look to it.
What I have found works well is a mix of beeswax (1 oz), coconut oil (2oz) and jojoba oil (2oz). Melt these over a double boiler and whisk while warm, then place into a mason jar and let it cool. You can also add a little fragrant essential oils like lavender if you like (~5-10 drops).
You Are What You Eat
The fungus that causes unsightly toenails is a yeast and yeast thrives on sugars. Think about fermented wines, beers, and adding sugar to bread yeast before pitching it into flour to make a pizza dough. I did a stint where I reduced my sugar consumption by half and noticed a significant difference in how aggressive my toenail fungus presented on my feet. So while you are trying to regain control of your toe nails, it is best to reduce your sugar intake. I know it can be hard, but it is worth it.
As always, Shoe Defenders help keep the inside of your shoes a difficult place for microbes to thrive.
Stay tuned for more posts on how to keep your feet happy!