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Home :: Body Basics :: Solutions For Hand and Feet Disorders

Solutions For Hand and Feet Disorders

Let us help you with your most common hand- and footcare questions.

Q: I get dreadful handnails. How should i deal with them?

A: Hangnails are caused when cuticles grow up the side of the nail. They harden and become separated, creating little 'sticks' at the nail edge. Prevent them by caring regularly for your cuticles. To treat existing ones, however, the most important thing is not to pull them, as this can create painful tears in the skin at the side of the nail which can become infected. Instead, use a cuticle clipper (the only time you should use these) to cut the hangnail as close to the nail as possible. Now apply cuticle remover for five to six minutes to dissolve the rough edge. Finally, apply cuticle oil and push back the rest of the cuticle to prevent the hangnail regrowing.

Q: Why do i have horizontal ridges and white spots on my nails?

A: Both of these are signs of damage to the nail while it was growing. The ridges are disruptions to the pattern of the nail cells, the white spots signs of air under the nail. Some people also find they have vertical ridges on their nails - these are a sign of ageing (caused as cell renewal changes with age). In both cases, the ridges can be smoothed out with a nail buffer. Use this gently (if you feel burning, you're going too hard and asking for more damage) and make sure you moisturize afterwards.

Q: My nails are always soft. Can i eat anything specific to strengthen them?

A: Well, the jelly myth isn't strictly true ­there's no proof it actually helps nails. But a generally healthy diet leads to healthy nails. Specific nutrients to look for are calcium (found in dairy products and bony fish), biotin (found in breakfast cereal and wholemeal foods) and vitamin D (found in fortified milk or created in the body through exposure to sunshine), all of which help strengthen nails.

Q: I've always got cracked heels, and so does my mum. Is this hereditary?

A: You can be genetically predisposed to dry skin anywhere on the body, including the feet so it could be. However, there may be other causes. If there is a red rash on the soles of the feet or any infiammation or blistering, infection is probably the cause and you need a treatment cream to make things better. Ask a pharmacist, your gp or a chiropodist for advice. If not, the cause is probably your shoes. Slingbacks or mules create a ridge of hard skin where the heel hits the edge of the shoe and are a common cause of heel problems.

Q: I wore bright red nail varnish on my nails for a week and now they'r yellow. What can i do?

A: Grab a buffing stick and rub this over the nail. It will remove the top layer of nail cells, which will hopefully remove the yellowing. If this doesn't work, soak the nails in lemon juice for two to three minutes. This will dry them out so wash your hands well afterwards and apply of hand cream.

Q: When do i need to see a chiropodist about feet problems?

A: You can see a chiropodist about any kind of foot problem, no matter how simple. Conditions like dry skin, fungal toenails, corns, calluses and small verrucas can also be initially treated at home using professional products. If they don't improve within two to three weeks or go completely within four to six weeks, see an expert.

Q: I love the way i look in high heels. Is there anything that makes it okay to wear them every day?

A: Technically, no. Very high heels throw the weight forward, putting pressure on the ball of the foot, the hips and the back. However, this doesn't mean you're doomed to fiat shoes for ever. These too alter the natural line of the hips and feet and are as bad for you to wear every day as four-inch stilettos the ideal heel height is between one and two inches - and obviously the thinner the heel, the higher it will look.