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Mom's Toenails Are Gross!



"My elderly mother’s toenails don’t look so good. They’re thick, yellow, and misshapen. I’m not sure what to do about them and neither does she. 

I’d like a little advice about how one cares for one’s nails as they age. I suspect we’re not the only ones needing this advice. What can you tell us?"



There is foot care and there is medical care, and I will talk about both with you. 

The first thing to consider with your mother is the possibility of a fungal or bacterial infection, because they’re very common in the elderly and often the reason for the yellow or brown thickening you see. Your mother should have her feet examined by a physician. If there’s an infection, that’s where to start. Seek a professional to prescribe the most effective treatment for nails. You may be referred to a podiatrist, which is a specialist. I recommend you put this on the list of things to accomplish and take your mother to the appointment if necessary.

Now, on to a little bit about nails. Feet do the hard work of moving us from place to place. Because they’re far from our eyes, enclosed in shoes, and for many elderly folks, hard to reach, we tend to ignore foot problems until we have trouble walking.

Foot care is very important for preventing nail problems. Here are suggestions:

  • Keep feet dry. When wet, dry and change socks.
  • Wear clean socks each day and shoes with toe room.
  • Cut nails straight across - no curves.
  • Walk to keep circulation moving.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
  • Skip nail polish.
  • Wash and most importantly dry your feet and between toes daily.
  • Double up your diligence if you have diabetes.

Caring for our toenails is possible, though often ignored until there’s a problem. Seek medical advice. Treatment is likely available for your mother through a professional. They’ll be able to get you to the quickest and most effective solution to restore her nails to a healthy state.