Finger & Toenails
Health Tip #8, 17 October 1996
This week’s topic was suggested to me by one of my floormates, so indeed it is worthwhile to let us know what you’d like to see as future Health Tips!
Nail Fungus: The fungus spreads from the tip to the root of the nail, usually on the toenails because of the warm, moist environment inside your shoes and socks. Be sure to keep your feet clean, consider applying antiperspirant (to prevent sweat and moisture), keep the nails cut short (so fungus can’t get underneath), and wear shoes made out of leather or canvas so your feet can get some air.
Nail Biting: Nail biting can start because of nervousness, but more often it is just a bad habit similar to cracking one’s knuckles. In order to stop you should notice how often you bite the nails and then make a conscious effort to keep your hands away from your mouth when you have that urge. Keep your nails cut short and filed smooth, wear gloves, or apply some untasty substance (like lemon juice or hot pepper) that will make you not want to bite.
Hangnails: Since hangnails are often caused by dry skin (as well as nail-biting), soften your fingers in an oil-and-water solution to keep them moisturized. Make sure the skin is soft when you cut a hangnail, cover any small rips with an antibacterial ointment, and bandage your finger after cutting.
Ingrown Toenails: An ingrown nail (usually on the big toe) is when the nail digs into the skin, causing lots of pain. You should cut the nail straight across, file the corners, make sure you aren’t wearing tight shoes, and soak your feet every so often. Do not follow the old wives’ tale of cutting a V-shaped wedge as it will do more harm than good.
Blood: To relieve the pressure and pain from blood trapped underneath the nail you will need to melt a small hole through the nail to let the blood escape. Unbend a paperclip, heat it above the flame from a cigarette lighter or match, and press the tip to the nail.
Ancient Norse mythology says that one should keep his nails cut short because, after his death, they are stolen and used as material in the construction of the great and dreaded ship Naglfar which will be loosed from its moorings at Ragnarok (the deaths of Thor and Odin, the destruction of the world, some believe it will come in 3-4 years to coincide with Armageddon) and commandeered by the giant Hrym.
Sources of Information:
The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies, by Sid Kirchheimer, 1993.
Take Care of Yourself, by Donald M. Vickery & James F. Fries, 1996.