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Show Off Beautiful Toes and Toenails This Summer


We take our toes and toenails for granted more than any other part of our bodies.

Yet we want to draw attention to our toenails when wearing open-toed shoes – or just going barefoot at the beach.

If your toes are in good health and your toenails are smooth, solid, and well-shaped – no problem. Just put on your favorite toenail polish, and show them off.

If your toes and toenails are not in good health, that can keep them from looking their best – and you make excuses not to display bare feet in public.

Take a good look at your toes and toenails. If you’re not proud to display them, you may just need a pedicure.

Depending on your symptoms, however, you may need to see a doctor to treat your condition. Your toes may indicate you have a problem even the brightest nail polish can’t cover up.


Problem 1: “Half and half” or washed-out nails

This occurs when your toenail’s bed is partly white, partly red, pink or brown.

They’re also called Lindsay’s nails.

The discoloration of half-and-half nails can be disguised with nail polish – but see your doctor first.

That’s because research says 20% to 50% of patients with chronic kidney disease have this condition.

A related problem is Terry’s nails. In Terry’s nails, the nail beds are mostly white, with maybe a millimeter band of pink or brown.

This condition indicates a possible liver disease such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.


Problem 2: Nail ridges

Usually, vertical nail ridges are nothing to worry about.

Vertical ridges run from the base of your nail to the top. They’re also called longitudinal striations or bands.

However, unless you’ve had them all your life, you should pay attention.

According to some experts, nail ridges come from being overstressed. 

Often they become more prominent or numerous as we age.

If the ridges change color or texture, that could indicate a medical condition, so show your doctor. 

Vertical nail ridges can also indicate an iron deficiency, so have your doctor test you for that.

Horizontal nail ridges – Beau’s lines – go from side to side, and often indicate a more serious problem.

Beau’s lines may stop the nail from growing. And they may be caused by kidney disease.

If you have Beau’s lines on all ten toenails, that could have a number of causes, including:

* Parathyroid disease

* Mumps

* Respiratory problems

* Diabetes

* Zinc deficiency


Problem 3: “Rough” nails

Depending on the severity of a case, the nails can be really rough – nothing you’d want to show off.

If the nails have horizontal ridges, it’s called “opaque trachyonychia.” (“Trachyonychia” means “rough nails.”) They’re also called “sandpaper nails” because your nails look as though they’ve been rubbed with sandpaper.

A less frequent version is known as “shiny trachyonychia,” where the nail is opalescent and has pits. 

Your nail plates may be too thin or too thick. Your cuticles are usually ragged and thickened. 

These conditions can affect all – or only some – of your nails. The general underlying issue is inflammation, but the precise cause is unknown.


Problem 4: Chronically swollen feet

Of course, if you’ve been standing or walking for a long time, your feet will appear and feel swollen. This goes away as you sit and rest.

However, if your feet always appear several sizes too large to fit onto your ankles, you need to check that out. The potential risk goes way beyond your natural desire to look beautiful and desirable.

It often indicates some kind of weakness in the function of one of your organs. 

If it’s caused by poor circulation, that could indicate heart problems.

It could be caused by the overconsumption of salt-holding water in your body.

Chronically swollen feet could also indicate kidney or liver disease.

You need to visit your doctor to rule out organ failure.

At the very least, get more exercise and eat less salt.


Problem 5: Dark vertical bands on toenails or dark spots under the nails

This could be caused by melanoma – skin cancer.

It usually develops on the big toe, but can affect your other toes – and can get between your toes.

Melanoma is the most serious kind of skin cancer, often developing in places that get too much sun – or too little sun. (The point is argued.)

However, we do know feet and toes are common locations for melanoma.

This by itself is a good argument for tracking the condition of your feet and toes. When melanoma is caught early, it’s highly treatable.

Left untreated, however, it spreads – and can kill you.

Acral melanoma is the type found most often on the feet of people of color. However, general melanoma is just as common among white people – so everybody is at risk.

Other Foot Discolorations May Indicate Melanoma

Any new spot, growth, mass, or sore on your feet or toes should be checked out.


To show off beautiful feet, toes, and toenails, you need overall good health.

If any foot or toe condition is keeping you from wearing open-toed shoes or going barefoot, check with your doctor.