Posted by IdealVitamins Staff

When the weather gets warmer, it’s time to break out the sandals. Of course, that means showing off your toes. Having your toenails (and  fingernails)  look pretty and polished is a great way to feel good about yourself and show off your style, but keeping your nails healthy is paramount.

On average, nails gain about one eighth of an inch per month. Their growth can be impacted by hormones (pregnant women's nails grow faster) and hot temperatures. But factors such as poor nutrition, infections, and aging can all slow growth and contribute to poor nail health, which is often the first indicator of overall health.  

Here are some ways to keep your toenails healthy:

Keep nails clean and dry - Wearing sandals exposes your feet to a myriad of dirt, bacteria and viruses. Make sure to wash your feet often and keep them dry as moisture can provide a breeding ground for virus to flourish.

Moisturize often - Nails need to be hydrated, since they  can crack, peel, and become brittle. Plus, dehydrated cuticles not only look ragged but also can turn into painful and infected hangnails.

Don't share tools - Don’t let anyone use your nail tools including your emery board, which is a porous germ trapper that needs to be replaced often. Consider bringing your own tools when you get a manicure/pedicure to ensure that they are germ free and sterile.

Resist going barefoot - Keep your shoes on while at public places such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and shoe stores. Warm, damp environments are a breeding ground for fungus and viruses.

Wear shoes that fit - If you're cramming your feet into shoes that are too small or tight, your toenails may grow into the surrounding skin causing a painful ingrown nail, which can lead to pain, swelling, and infection.

Trim toenails regularly - Keeping nails short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury. And keeping them cut straight across also helps minimize the risk of breakage and infection.

Don't cut cuticles. - Whether you have your nails professionally done or do them yourself, leave your cuticles alone to maintain a natural barrier to fungus and bacteria.

Take biotin supplements - Supplements of biotin (a member of the vitamin B family) can increase nail thickness and prevented splitting and breaking. Some nail health products also contain the supplement MSM, a nutrient also associated with good nail health.

Take a break from polish- Wearing polish often makes your feet look really cute and stylish, but constantly covering your nails with a synthetic coating doesn't give your nails a chance to breath. So skips the polish and go au natural every now and again.

Skip acetone-polish removers - Acetone nail polish remover can cause nails to become brittle and more prone to breakage.

Monitor your nails - Watch your nails for signs of health problems. The color of your nails can be an indicator of problems. White nails can means a liver condition; half pink/half white nails may be kidney disease; yellowing and thickening of the nail or slowed growth rate could indicate lung disease; pale nail beds might be a sign of anemia; and yellow-tinged nails with a slight blush at the base could mean you have diabetes.