Are older people’s nails complicated?
Posted on 3rd January 2018 at 12:02
People often ask me if I get sick cutting nails all day, I think they visualise a room of older people with their stockings and slippers off waiting for me to ‘to the rounds’.
Well, no I don’t get sick of cutting toenails, but I certainly do not do it all day. It is not a cosmetic procedure and another people often ask me is ‘can I do their fingernails’.
Podiatrists are lower limb specialists and it is not in my remit to cut nails purely for the sake of cutting nails.
treated correctly? Mobility issues and eyesight problems mean that many older people cannot manage their own nails and the very nature of toenails means that they spend their lives in socks and shoes and often become thickened, damaged or fungally infected.
Toenails and the skin at the very tip of the toe (the apex) can often become difficult to separate, this is called nail tufts and mean that nail cutting can cause bleeding. Many older people take medication to prevent blood clotting and if a toe bleeds it can be very hard to stop.
As mentioned before many older people have thin skin and this can affect the skin under the nail. Thickened or distorted nails can cause pressure on this skin and cause bleeding, ulcers and infections.
In people with swollen feet managing nails can be tricky and if the circulation is poor then careful management is a must to avoid cutting skin and developing infections or non-healing wounds.
To summarise this series on older people’s feet, if you are looking after or advising an older person about foot and nail care: cleanliness, moisturising, appropriate socks and shoes or slippers are key. And seek out your podiatrist for nail care, callus or anything that worries you or looks out of the ordinary.
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