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Foot Care Sanding for Nurses

Review the foot care sanding basics part 1 here.

As foot care professionals, we aim to provide our patients with solutions to uncomfortable, painful and potentially dangerous foot and nail conditions. From mycotic nails to diabetic feet, proper technique and care will ensure healthy outcomes. Keep reading to learn how to treat thick toenails and the underlying conditions to provide patients relief and healthier feet.

The warning signs of pressure or laceration are pain, discoloration, redness and swelling. When parts of the toe appear swollen and red, even with no apparent trauma, laceration of the flesh has almost certainly occurred.

In cases where the nail cannot simply be cut away from the skin because of the severity of the ingrown nail, sanding is required. Sanding will first allow you to thin the nail in order to cut it effectively. Knowing how to sand nails is essential to learning how to cut thick toenails.

Sanding should never be painful or result in bleeding. You should be able to sand all the way down to the skin under the nail without causing pain to your patient. If pain or bleeding occur while you perform foot care, you are using your tools too aggressively.

Be on the lookout for:

u-shaped toenailWhen cutting the nail, beware of creating a u-shape that is the result of removing more of the center portion of the nail and less of the edges. As the nail grows, the edges will protrude causing an issue for the patient.

Thick or Hollow Nails
thick hollow nailIf your patient is experiencing thickened toenails, clip and sand the nail until a flattened surface is achieved. Thick toenails can cause a variety of issues including trauma, ulceration and infection caused by pressure from wearing shoes.

Pincer Nails
pincer nailBecause he skin will be higher under the central portion of the nail, it's important to practice extra care when sanding. While the corners of the nail can be handled as normal, the top should not be sanded aggressively.

nail discolorationIf you notice discoloration of any kind, examine the toe(s) to identify any potential causes. Discoloration may be caused by pooled blood due to an injury or by a fungus.

Uneven Nails
snaggable uneven nailPotential for injury isn't limited to the nail tip. Examine the top of the nail to identify any potential for snagging. If the nail appears to be only partially attached, sand the nail and clip it to prevent the detachment of the nail at a later time.

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foot care basics infographic dr julia overstreet