Posted: Dec 03, 2012 11:00 AM
Those trendy, dark nail polishes are lovely, but they can also hide a big problem when you use them on your toes. But, fear not. With a few simple tips, you can keep your deep colors and have healthy toes too!

A few months ago, I finally decided to remove my dark nail polish from my toes to let my nails breathe. To my surprise, my toenails were not only yellowed, but also cracked and flaky-looking. I feared that I had contracted nail fungus. I quickly searched online for anti-fungal remedies: tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and even Clorox bleach came up in the results! I decided to try the apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Both seemed natural enough and many online commenters had had success with this treatment.

My biggest fear was that my little one, the expert army crawler, may contract fungus as well, as I always remove my shoes as I enter my apartment. I decided to wear socks around the house. My son kept trying to pull my socks off and my husband complained of the tea tree oil stench as we crawled into bed. What could I do?

My friend advised that I should actually go to a dermatologist to confirm that I indeed had toenail fungus. I decided to make an appointment. My dermatologist took a clipping and sent it to a lab for testing. A few weeks later my results came back: I was clear of fungus! Phew! I had pictured a life of sock-wearing, pedicure-free shame.

It's important to allow your nails to breathe every couple of weeks.

From this experience, I realized the trend of wearing bold, dark nail polish is actually damaging to the nail bed. Dark polish can become a breeding ground for fungus as well. When sporting the trend, it's important to allow your nails to breathe every couple of weeks. And don't ever leave your polish on for months at a time, as I had done! When getting a pedicure, try to opt for lighter shades as they will not yellow the nail as badly. If you can't find time to get a proper pedicure, simply remove the polish and let your nails air out.

Also, always change up your shoes so they stay fresh. If you love your ballet flats and simply must wear them every day, sprinkle some Zeasorb on them to ensure they stay dry and fungus-free. Do not recycle socks, and wash them with Clorox Regular-Bleach to disinfect. If you are going to a professional salon to get a pedicure, make sure they properly disinfect all instruments before use. In addition, be sure they use a new emery board — New York State Law requires it, so don't let anyone fool you into thinking it does not need to be switched for you. It's your right! When choosing a salon, avoid salons that use pedicure thrones with water jets, as they are a breeding ground for fungus. Sterile porcelain bowls are best.

Like anything, prevention is always best when it comes to nail care. If you do think you have contracted a fungus, see your dermatologist.

Products I like^Kanshi Instantly Refreshing Foot Spray (4 fluid ounces for $10) with anti-fungal lemon myrtle – keeps feet fresh and energized!

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