Nail Care

One of the Worst Things You Can Do to Feet in the Summer, According to a Podiatrist

Kells McPhillips

Photo: Getty/ With love of photography
There's something about hitting the beach with a fresh pedicure that feels quintessentially like summertime. But if your nail care motto from June to August is paint, enjoy, remove, repeat, a podiatrist says you might want to hit pause on the cycle for a beat. If you don't (and I'm so sorry to be the one to have to break this to you), you may just find toenail fungus lurking beneath your Bimini Blue polish.

"Nail polish is a leading cause of toenail fungus," says Doug Tumen, DPM, FACFAS, a board-certified podiatrist based in New York’s Hudson Valley, pointing to many of the preservatives and chemicals in polishes as the leading culprits. "If upon removing nail polish you see white spots, yellow discoloration, or thickening of the nail, you may have a fungus forming." In other words, if you'd planned on swapping out polishes and catch a glimpse of something that looks unusual, it's probably best to skip polish for the time being.

Luckily, there are a few options in the meantime. For starters, consider a buff. To do this, nail technicians repeatedly go over the nail with a buffing block. This whittles down the tops of nails until they have a shiny effect that almost appears like clear polish. Alternatively, try nail stickers, which can add just a bit of decoration to your toes.

Once you notice that your nails look back to normal, and you're ready to opt for polish once again, Dr. Tumen recommends choosing salons that offer less chemical-laden polishes and double-checking that the establishment's tools are sterilized. "New anti-fungal, non-toxic nail polish is now available. Consider switching to a safe anti-fungal nail polish to help avoid developing fungus toenails," he says. That way, you don't have to deal with a gnarly case of toe fungus come fall.

Inquiring minds want to know: why do pedis last longer than manis? Oh, and before you settle into the salon chair, make sure the nail salon ticks these four boxes

Tags: Nail Care
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