Care of the Human Hands and Feet

The hands and the feet are the parts of the body most often used. The hands are used in handling objects. They come in contact with creams and lotions, water (cold and warm) and dirt of different types. The feet too suffer from moist or heat from shoes, while dirt from the ground affects exposed surface of the feet. There are many ways to care for the feet and the hands. Pedicure and manicure combine the care of both nails of the hand and feet. Before discussing the care of the hand and feet, it is necessary to understand the structure of the nails.

the human hands and feet

Structure of the Nail

The nail is a horny structure meant for protecting the tips of the fingers and toes. A growing nail tip can be found underneath the cuticles. The cuticles contain the nerve and the blood supply. As the nail grows away from the cuticle, it becomes hard and horny. The cuticles can be seen as a thin skin at the base of the growing nail. It protects the nail. The structure of the nail is affected by the diet of the individual. Good diet always gives rise to very smooth and nice looking nails.

Basic Equipment and Materials for Nail Care

These include scissors, clippers, buffers and nail tiles. They are used for ordinary nail care.


It is a tool for polishing the fingernails. Buffers are used to obtain a very smooth nail before the nail polish is applied.

Nail Cutter

The nail cutter is used for cutting the nails. It can be used for both finger and toe nails which have overgrown. It is better to avoid the use of razor blade for removing overgrown nails except one really knows how to use it.


Scissors, like nail cutters, are also used for trimming or removing overgrown nails both on the fingers and toes.

Emery Boards

These are used for filing and shapening the nails. An emery board has a very coarse side for achieving good filing and a less coarse side for smoother and better filing. Many people use steel files but emery boards are recommended.

Creams and Lotions

There are many creams and lotions for hand care in the market. They are used for softening the hands and smoothening rough and dry skin. It is necessary to select the skin cream and lotion that is suitable for your skin.

Other materials used for hand care are nail polishes and varnishes. These are also of different types and colours. Select any of these materials of your choice for the care of your hand.

Procedure for Care of Hands and Nails

It is good for young people to keep their nails short. Young people’s nails are soft and can break easily. They get dirty more quickly than those of adults. Keep your nails short to prevent dirt from collecting underneath them. Be careful not to cut the nails too short because when nails are too short it becomes easy for infections to develop underneath them.

Use a nail file to keep your nails shapely. A nail file is used to smoothen and sharpen the edge of the nail after cutting and removing dirt from it. Nail files should be used by adults who have time to use them properly, as wrong use can result in broken nails.

These steps should be followed in nail care:

i. Remove old nail polish with cotton wool soaked in nail polish remover.

ii. Use a file (emery board or steel file) to sharpen the nails. The tiling should be done in one direction, using the edge of the file.

iii. Rub a small amount of cream or oil onto each nail and leave them for a few minutes to dry.

iv. Prepare warm soapy water and soak the tips of the fingers in it for a few minutes; then wipe your hands with soft tissue or towel.

v. Apply some cuticle remover to each nail. Use cotton to remove the cuticle and wash off quickly.

vi. Keep the nails free of any excess lotion with a soft tissue paper or cotton wool.

vii. Paint the nail with the polish. Start by applying the base coat nail polish lightly to enable it dry quickly. The base coat helps to make the nail surface very smooth. It also helps to make the top coat last longer.

viii. Apply the nail polish. It is advisable to apply two coats; a light coat first, when it is dry, apply second coat. Allow it to dry and apply a top coating or glaze to give your hall a shining surface.

ix. Soak some cotton wool in nail polish remover to remove any polish on the tinger or cuticles.

Prevention and Control of Nail Problems

There are some nail problems that may affect the quality and beauty of the fingers. Some of these problems can be avoided with good nail care. The following are examples of nail problems, their prevention and control:

Broken nails: When a nail is broken, it affects the appearance of the fingers, trim and shapen the nails regularly to avoid the uneven splitting of the nails.

Hand infection: This can occur between the finger and around the nails when fingers are not properly dried. Fungus infections can result when the hands are always wet. To cure the infection, it is necessary to see a qualified medical doctor. To prevent the disease, the hands should always be kept dry and not left in water for too long.

Cracked nails: Kitchen utensils can crack the nails if they are not properly handled while cooking. Some nails also crack due to the use of metal files or scissors on them. These cracks can hide dirt if they are not properly cared for. It is necessary to always keep your fingers clean. If cracked nails have dirt hiding in them, soak the fingers in warm soapy water to make the nail soft and then use a brush to remove the dirt.

Split cuticle: This is common among people who use unprotected fingers to do some hard jobs like working with the soil or grinding cassava or other chores that involve exposed fingers. In case of hard contact with the cuticle, push it back with a small stick covered with cotton wool. Rinse the hands with warm water and keep them dry. Hand lotions or creams may be applied to cuticle. It is good to avoid the use of razor blades for removing overgrown nails except you really know how to use it. If razor blades are not correctly used, they can cut deep into the tissue underneath the nails. This is very painful and may lead to other diseases or problems.

Whitlow: This is a very painful disease that appears like a boil under or at one side of the nail. This disease can occur if the hand is in water or moist for too long or if a piece of dirt such as an old fish bone or piece of wood gets stuck under the nail. If it is not well cared for, it can destroy the shapes of the fingers. Sometimes, it can lead to loss of the finger. See a qualified medical doctor immediately for treatment.

Procedure for Care of the Feet

The feet are often enclosed within shoes and can be wet for a long time. Therefore, it requires special care to keep the nails and toes healthy. The procedure for caring for the nails of the hand is called manicure while that of the feet is called pedicure. One way to care for the feet is to choose shoes that give comfort.

Though shoes can be fashionable, they should also give the feet room to allow the nails to grow on the toes. Shoes that are comfortable, fit the feet. The shape of the shoe should also be considered. There are many types of footwear which include sandals, high-heel shoes, platform soles and pointed shoes. The type of occasion should dictate the type of shoes to wear.

Very high-heeled and pointed shoes may not be good for long distance walking because the shoes will force the weight of the body to shift forward on the toes making them carry excess weight which deforms the toes. Sandals are the most common type of shoes for school children. They expose their feet to plenty of air and allow the feet to grow. Young people should avoid high-heeled shoes.

For proper care of the feet, it is necessary to treat tired feet with some powder or cream. Strengthen the muscles of the feet by stretching them while relaxing at home. Slippers are used at home and are comfortable. Only the appropriate size of shoes should be worn on the feet.

Ways of taking Care of the Feet

Below are ways of taking proper care of the feet:

i. Wash the feet properly, especially between the toes and apply moisturising cream.

ii. Cut and shape the nails weekly with nail cutter or scissors.

iii. File toe nails from one side to the other in one direction using an emery board. Use it to also smoothen the edge 0f the nails.

iv. Older girls may apply nail polish on the toe nails when they are out of school.

v. Once in a while, soak the feet in a basin or tub of warm soapy water for sometime and scrub the toes and feet with a pumice stone to remove rough skin. Pumice stones can come in different colours.

Prevention and Control of Feet Problems

Neglect of the feet can cause many problems that can make a person feel very uncomfortable. Therefore, it is necessary to take good care of the feet. Lack of proper care of the feet leads to problems such as corns, bunions, varicose veins and infections.

Corns: lf poor-fitting shoes are continually worn, there may be some hardened dead skin on the feet called corns. Corns are very painful when pressed. Many people cut their corns but this makes it more painful and it grows bigger. It is better to file away the corns with a file and apply lotion to the feet. Avoid wearing shoes that are tight-fitting.

Bunions: Shoes that are very uncomfortable can also cause bunions. These are the swellings at the joint of the big toe and sometimes at the top which causes distortion of the joint of the toe. They are very painful and can affect the way the person who has it walks. It is better to avoid bunions by using comfortable shoes.

Varicose vein: This is a painful swelling of the veins. it can occur due to too much strain on the legs, either by standing for too long or by walking long distances in high-heel shoes. Blood circulation is disturbed by shoes that are too tight and the ankles become swollen and painful. This may lead to varicose veins. To avoid varicose veins, wear comfortable shoes and balance your weight evenly between your two legs when you are standing or walking.

Athlete’s foot: Bacteria, fungi and viruses can develop easily on the feet that are not well cared for. Some feet become wet or damp if they are in covered shoes for a long time. This may result in fungus infections such as athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot itches a lot and gives off an unpleasant smell. Antifungus ointment or powder cures it. To avoid this kind of foot disease, it is necessary to change shoes regularly, bathe the feet. dry them and expose the feet to fresh air when at home.

Choice and Care of Footwear

Footwear includes various types of shoes. sandals and stockings. Different types of footwear are worn for different dresses and occasions. The choice of footwear is determined by some of the following:

1. Amount of money available

2. Type of activity to be performed

3. Type of occasion to be attended

4. Preference of the wearer

5. The type of dress to be worn: and

6. Season of the year. e.g rainy or dry season.

You should buy the footwear you can afford. You should also wear shoes that fit the occasion or activity you are going to perform. The shoes and stockings must also match the dress. Slippers and sandals should be worn around the house casually.

Care of Footwear

Footwear must be cared for regularly or germs may infect them and affect the feet. If the footwear is not properly cared for, it begins to emit bad odour and this can lead to infection. Therefore, footwear should be cared for in the following ways:

1. Shoes should be taken out often and aired to dry.

2 Shoes should be cleaned with dry cloth before wearing.

3. Shoes that require polishing should be polished with good polish and brush.

4. Dirty and smelling shoes should not be kept on the rack or in the wardrobe without treatment.

5. A shoe horn should always be used to assist the wearing of tight shoes but the appropriate size of shoes are recommended.

6. Over-sized or under-sized shoes should always be avoided to prevent injury to the feet and discomfort to the wearer.

Lack of care of footwear can lead to the following:

1. Offensive odour whenever the shoes are removed and in the wardrobe where the shoes are kept;

2. Disease occuring through the fungus that grows in the shoes

3. Disease spreading if another person wears the shoes or stockings;

4. Footwear rot and decay easily if they are not properly cared for; and

5. Insects such as cockroach eat up stored dirty stockings and shoes.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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