Our feet are probably the least most cared for parts of our body and are expected to work in carrying us over many miles all year round and there are a few basic things that we can do to keep them in good working order.
Most people ignore their feet until there is a problem or particularly for women, if they are changing from enclosed footwear in the winter to summer sandals. This is the point where many of them will realise how their feet have been uncared for as far as dry skin, cracked heels, corns and calluses are concerned.
Many foot ailments are due to neglect or unintentional abuse and the biggest culprit is footwear. Several patients have complained to me in the past about how they wished they’d ‘listened to their mother’ or grandmother about wearing proper fitting, comfortable footwear.
Many of these patients tell me how, in their youth, went out and bought the most fashionable pair of shoes they could afford as soon as they were able to (rejecting the ‘boring’ startrite shoes) and now bitterly regret it, particularly if they are suffering with bunions and other long-term foot problems caused by high heels and pointed shoes.
Here are 13 Tips for Better Foot Care
- Cream your feet regularly
- Protect them from blisters
- Protect your bunions
- Check them regularly for problems
- Alternate your footwear
- Use a foot towel and change it regularly
- Cover feet in public bathing areas
- Give them a pedicure
- Treat them to a massage
- Use a base coat if applying nail polish
- See a reflexologist
- Use a good sun cream
- Use cushioning insoles or orthotics
One of the best things you can do a regular basis is to cream your feet. Good foot hygiene is essential and feet should be washed regularly and dried properly, particularly between the toes.
A light moisturising cream should then be applied, something that has a high urea content like CCS cream which is excellent for dry skin as opposed to the more waxy preparations mainly used in eczema and psoriasis. This will also help with any corn problems you have and may save you from using over the counter acid preparations used in corn-plasts, which are not recommended.
Blisters should not be broken but be covered with a protective dressing and perhaps a little antiseptic ointment after washing and drying properly. An excellent product to buy and carry around with you as a preventative measure is one of the Compeed plaster or Band-Aid range. These are gel filled Band-Aids that you apply to pressure points on the foot to stop shoes from rubbing.
Bunion pain can be alleviated by wearing wider fitting footwear, particularly in the toe box area and using protective gel coverings now available online and at many pharmacies. The point is, to keep the pressure off the joint so it does not become inflamed and infected.
If you are diabetic you should be seeking advice from your doctor or podiatrist to determine if you have any neuropathy in the feet and the best course of regular treatment. Again because diabetics are much greater risk of foot problems they need to be washed and cleaned and inspected regularly for any abrasions bruises and cuts or infections.
Footwear should be changed around regularly and allowed to dry out and air after use to prevent any fungal infections. If you have an athlete’s foot problem, it is always best to boil wash socks and spray the insides of footwear with anti-fungal spray or powder.
It is also an idea to change your bathroom foot towel regularly, (yes, use a separate towel just for feet) so you do not cross infect yourself from your toes to other areas of your body, as bacteria and fungi can lay dormant up to 4 weeks.
Always wear suitable sandals or other foot coverings in public bathing areas to avoid contracting athlete’s foot or verruca/wart infections.
Try giving yourself a home pedicure from time to time by soaking your feet in warm salt water containing a cup of Epsom salts or sea salts which is great for skin and fungal nail infections. This will also allow you to easily exfoliate the skin and any calluses.
Modern foot spas are great at massaging feet as well, as they generally have jets and massaging elements to them to give you that pampered feel. You can then use a foot file once the feet are completely dry, to smooth the heels before applying cream. Using bed socks will allow your feet to retain the cream for longer and avoid getting cream on the sheets.
If you are going to use a nail polish on your toenails, make sure you use a base coat, as the solvent in the polish (particularly dark polishes) will attack and breakdown the nail plate to leave an unsightly white and sometimes soft nail.
Treat yourself to a good massage from a qualified reflexologist once in a while or a good electric foot massager. This will not only prove relaxing, it also promotes good circulation in the foot and lower limb.
Don’t forget if you are visiting the beach use a good quality high factor sun cream on the skin and nails. This may seem excessive, but apart from avoiding skin cancer, you can actually contract a melanoma beneath the nail plate itself and this is becoming more common. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen after coming out of the water.
If you are suffering with foot or heel pain you can buy an over the counter gel insole or heel cup to cushion the foot and lift the arch. If the problem persists you may need to visit your podiatrist for further diagnosis.
Most of us take our feet were granted but with a little care, good hygiene and proper fitting footwear, your feet will keep you going without a lot of trouble and you will also help prevent future foot health problems.