You’d be surprised how much stress your feet have to deal with on a daily basis. That’s why it’s key to have healthy feet. Whether you run or walk a great deal, or if you simply stand for extended periods of time at your job, your feet have to support all your body weight.
Here are some foot care tips that will ensure you have happy, healthy feet for a lifetime:
1. Be Careful When Cutting Your Toenails
Far too many people fail to take the proper precautions when cutting their toenails, and their feet suffer as a result. While trimming your nails regularly is an important part of any personal hygiene regimen, if you’re not careful, you could run into a lot of different problems.1
One of the most common issues resulting, in part, from improperly cutting toenails, is an ingrown toenail. This occurs when the side of the nail burrows into the skin that surrounds it. The skin becomes not only tender and swollen, but an angry shade of red as well. The big toe is the one that is typically the most affected, but careless toenail trimming can affect any toe.
The first thing you need to make sure you do when trimming your toenails is to never cut down the edges or at an angle. Always trim straight across to avoid the possibility of developing an ingrown toenail. Also, if you cut your toenails too short, that will result in skin growing over the nail. Eventually, the nail will grow back – causing severe pain as it cuts into the skin.
If you do develop an ingrown toenail and you notice any bleeding or discharge of pus, get to your doctor as soon as possible, because you might have developed an infection.
2. Wear the Right Shoes – Particularly at Work
One of the best foot care practices is to make sure you’re wearing the right kinds of shoes, but it’s especially important to have the right footwear if you’re on your feet all day at work. Always wear shoes that fit well, are comfortable, and have flexible, thick soles. They should be secure enough that your foot stays in place and your toes don’t slide toward the front. The “toe box” should leave enough room so that you can freely wiggle your toes.
If your workplace tends to be wet, always wear not only waterproof shoes but waterproof socks as well. The socks should be thick enough to make sure your feet stay warm, but loose enough to where they don’t affect your circulation.
There are times where an accident can occur no matter how careful we might be when it comes to our work shoes. If you suffer any sort of cut to your foot – no matter how minor you might think it is – clean it thoroughly and cover it with the right dressing. If you develop a blister, address it quickly so that it can heal as fast as possible.2 Taking care of a small injury to your feet right away can help keep big problems from developing down the road.
3. Take the Right Steps to Avoid Foot Odor
Extremely smelly feet are usually the result of excess sweat. Some people actually have a medical issue known as hyperhidrosis, which makes their feet sweat more than normal. Foot odor can also be due to athlete’s foot or some other type of fungal infection of the feet.
Fortunately, there are a lot of easy things you can do to keep your feet from offending. Using an antibacterial soap can help, but the key to avoiding smelly feet is practicing proper foot care. Switch out your shoes daily – don’t wear the same ones two days in a row, if possible. Try to change your socks once or twice a day as well if you can. This will give them time to dry out before you put them on again. Thoroughly wash your feet every day, and take the time to make sure they are completely dry.
Canvas and leather shoes will let your feet breathe better than plastic footwear, and sandals will also help them breathe, reducing the chances of foot odor.
4. Watch Out for Hammertoe
Hammertoe is a type of deformity that usually affects one of the middle toes. It happens to women more than men, in many cases because of high heels that have pointed toes. If you are showing any signs of this condition, talk to your doctor as soon as possible about the proper foot care to keep the problem from getting worse. Your physician may recommend the use of a protective pad or a brace, but surgery is sometimes needed in severe situations.
5. Never Ignore a Blister
A blister occurs when your foot is subjected to continued friction, such as when running or walking great distances. It’s very important that you address any blisters on your feet as soon as possible to reduce the chances of infection. It’s usually best not to drain a blister on your own, but it’s sometimes necessary in cases where it’s causing pain. Make sure you use a sterile needle that has been wiped with rubbing alcohol and gently pierce near the edge. Then press the fluid toward the puncture so it can drain, clean with antiseptic and cover with a gauze pad. It’s very important, however, that you never try to drain a blister if you have heart disease, diabetes or HIV – always see a doctor instead. The reason is that you could be at a high risk of a potentially dangerous infection.
6. Check Your Feet on a Daily Basis
We’ve already covered the importance of washing and drying your feet as part of your daily foot care routine. But if you have a condition known as peripheral neuropathy, it’s critically important that you check them for any signs of cuts or other injuries. This extremely serious condition results in numbness in the feet and other extremities, so you might have a cut and not know it. This could quickly lead to an infection that, in some cases, could be life threatening. If you notice any sort of serious cut, abrasion or blister on your feet, get to a doctor immediately so it can be properly treated.
7. Deal With Bunions
Bunions are not only unsightly, they can often be extremely painful as well. They are protrusions of bone that stick out at the bottom of the big toe. Some people develop them due to heredity; others develop bunions on their feet from wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that fit improperly. If you have a bunion, wear shoes that won’t press on the affected area. You might also find relief from a soft pad which you can affix to your bunion to ease pressure. You’ll definitely need to have the problem addressed if the bunion becomes painful – surgery might be necessary.
8. Cut Out the Corns
A corn, much like a callus, occurs when toes are subjected to friction. Corns can form either between the toes or on top of them. Thankfully, however, you can easily prevent corns by wearing shoes that are not only comfortable, but also fit correctly. When it comes to the removal of corns, you’ll be better off having it done by a podiatrist. However, you might be able to get rid of a corn on your own by soaking your feet in water each day and gently rubbing the area with a pumice stone or a towel. Eventually, the corn will peel off.
Some people, though, get impatient and try to take shortcuts. One of the most common is using a razor blade to cut it off. Never try to do this – the risk of a potentially severe complication is simply too high. If your corn is that problematic, get to a podiatrist. In the meantime, use a soft pad to protect the area and reduce discomfort.
9. Heal Heel Pain
One of the unfortunate aspects of growing older is a higher risk of heel pain due to a loss of fatty tissue in the area.3 This increases the amount of pressure on the heel bone, which then leads to inflammation of muscle and tissue.
If you are dealing with this problem, put an ice pack on the area for about 15 minutes and then gently stretch, massage, and elevate your foot whenever possible. Heel inserts could also bring relief. Your doctor may advise you to stay off the foot as much as you can and change your exercise regimen to biking or swimming – activities that won’t force you to put weight on the foot.
10. Avoiding Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects the sides, toes, or soles of the feet, leading to cracked, itchy skin. You can usually use an over-the-counter antifungal medicine to clear up the problem, but if it lasts more than two weeks, you’ll need to see your doctor.
The best way to prevent athlete’s foot is to make sure your feet remain dry and clean. Wear shoes made of breathable materials, and allow your shoes to completely dry before wearing them again. This should already be a part of your foot care routine, but if it’s not, start immediately.
By taking a few simple steps, you can keep your feet looking and feeling their best for a long time to come.
For more foot health tips, keep reading here: