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Tanglewood Foot Specialists

Give Your Toenails a Vacation from Nail Polish this Winter

Houston white damage to toenails from polishNail polish has become a fairly commonplace site, not just on the fingernails, but also on the toenails. Some women I meet go for weekly pedicures, which ends up being the highlight of the week. In extreme cases, some women even wear acrylic nails and tips on their toenails.

Ladies, I am not here to tell you to not wear polish on your toenails. I've tried, I've lost, I've given up. I do understand that when a woman wears an open toed shoe or sandal, they enjoy having polish on their nails. I get it!  As a Podiatrist in Houston, I'd rather it not be the case, but I do know it is.

But now it's winter. It's chilly here in Houston (for Houston) and outside of Houston it's downright cold. Women are wearing closed shoes and boots, but guess what? The nails are still being polished! So as a man I have to wonder...if no one is seeing the toenails, why continue to polish them?

Most nail polishes contain formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical best known for preserving cadavers. On a toenail, the formaldehyde dries and damages the nail. Polish remover has acetone, which is popular for removing adhesives and paint. Also damaging for the nail. This damage can leave the toenail susceptible to fungus infections. Most of you have seen the dry white flaky condition of the nail when your polish comes off. In fact, people often come into the office concerned that it's fungus. No, it's just damage from the polish.

It's time to take a vacation. While the closed shoes season is here, give your nails a chance to recover by not wearing polish. That's right...no polish. What's that? Just a base coat? Well clear polish is still just as damaging. It's not the color that does it, it's the polish itself. No matter what your pedicurist tells you, whether it contains essential vitamins, whether it's hypoallergenic, it doesn't matter...it's still nail polish.

Well is there any good polish? The answer is yes. There are polishes sold in some stores that are without formaldehyde. By most reports, they are inferior. There are also "healthy" polishes that contain vitamins, tea tree oil, and wheat protein. These are better for the nails and have antifungal properties. In our office we carry Dr.'s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish which fits this bill. Even so, no polish is still better than this.

If you're on vacation, go crazy, wear polish for the week if you're wearing shoes that will show your toes. But otherwise, treat the nails right and get them ready for next sandal season.

If you have noticed any discoloration after you remove your toenail polish, contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider to see how you can keep your nails healthy.

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Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.