The Importance of Foot Care
Author: Jo Johnson - Updated: 15 December 2010
They have to last a lifetime, so why are feet and toenails often the most neglected part of the body?A well tended to foot, not only looks much nicer in appearance, but should also carry on being fully functional without problems until no longer needed.
Common Foot Problems
Bunions: bunions (or Hallux Valgus), are bumps that develop around the main joint of the big toe. The prominence can become swollen and painful causing the sufferer limited options in foot wear, and can affect the distances that can be comfortably walked.
Although bunions can be caused by arthritis, the main reason for them developing is prolonged wearing of ill-fitting shoes. Many fashions display models wearing very high heels with severely tapered toes; these types of shoes can all contribute to a bunion forming. Bunions can be padded and appropriate footwear selected, but may still result in the possibility of a surgical correction.
Verrucas: these are normally circular areas of hardened skin that occur on the base of the foot and between the toes. They are a highly contagious occurrence caused by a viral infection and are often seen in children. The circular areas are often found to contain a small black dot at the centre; this is a collection of blood sent to try and fight the virus.
Treatments can be sought from the chemist, though they may need specialist treatment from a chiropodist if there are many at the same time or they do not respond to treatment.
Corns and Calluses: these are caused by an accumulation of dead skin at areas of pressure, and appear as hardened thick skin that can be very rough to touch. They can be uncomfortable and irritating for the sufferer and can be relieved by padding the area with special plasters bought from the chemist. If they continue to be problematic or get worse, they can be treated by a chiropodist who will perhaps want to shave the hard skin away. This should not be attempted at home.
Hard Skin: hard skin accumulates when the feet have been working all day and footwear causes friction. It can appear anywhere, but is common on the heel and main joint of the big toe. If it is left untreated, heels can become cracked and can bleed. A pumice stone is a natural product that helps to slough the skin off. It is best achieved after a bath as the water will have softened the skin. Once the bulk of hard skin has been removed a moisturising cream that is especially created for keeping hard skin of the feet under control is advisable. There are other hard skin removing devices available, so try to find the one that you find easiest to work with.
Foot Odours: smelly feet are very common and causes can be from poor foot hygiene to incorrect footwear. Shoes that are made of plastics, or that are worn for very long periods can all contribute to malodorous feet.
The feet contain many sweat glands that produce fluids that lay on the skin or are absorbed into the materials around them. As feet are often contained within a shoe, the bacteria in the fluid are left to multiply and create bad odours.
Washing feet at least twice a day will help to reduce bacterial build-up; wearing loose cotton socks will prevent excessive fluid from being produced and excreted, and a good anti-bacterial spray will help to decrease the effects of bacteria.
Athlete’s Foot: a fungal infection, athlete’s foot is a highly contagious disorder that requires treatment from an anti-fungal preparation. Stringent foot hygiene is essential in the control of the spread of athlete’s foot, and can be best avoided by not sharing towels, flannels, socks or shoes at any time.
The use of sandals or flip-flops when around a swimming-pool or in the summer when strolling on the patio will help to prevent the infection from spreading.
Toenails: toenails are very important in protecting the ends of the toes, and also in the general appearance of feet. Incorrect trimming technique can cause the nail to become embedded in the toe and nail bed; using clean sharp clippers (not scissors), trim straight across the nail without following the curve of the nail. File down sharp corners with an emery board.
General foot care involves washing regularly, drying properly, including between the toes and the base of the nail, using an appropriate moisturiser and wearing appropriate footwear. Many people find themselves on their feet all day, and walk miles during normal everyday routines or with work; feet have a lot of responsibility as they have to achieve all of this and carry our body weight as well. Due to this heavy workload, surely they deserve a little TLC at the end of the day; after all they have many more years of work to do.