Good footcare practices

According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, keeping feet healthy by practicing good foot hygiene is vital to long-term comfort and function of the feet.

by Peggy Reilly — 

With the approach of warmer weather, it is time to pull out our sandals, but first we want to make sure our feet are in their best condition and look presentable. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, keeping feet healthy by practicing good foot hygiene is vital to long-term comfort and function of the feet.

The following footcare protocol will help you have healthy feet that feel and look great.

• Soak feet in warm soapy water for approximately 10 minutes to soften and clean skin and nails.

• After soaking, gently remove calluses with a pumice stone, Hindu stone or emery board. This will get rid of dead skin cells, as well as calluses. Avoid cutting or shaving calluses with a razor. It is not legal or safe for an unlicensed practitioner to cut the skin and is definitely not recommended.

• Gently push back the cuticles with an orange stick or a Hindu stone. The cuticles are a normal part of the nail, and offer protection from bacteria and infection.

• Trim toenails straight across rather than in a curved pattern. This helps prevent them from becoming ingrown. Toenails should be trimmed just enough so that you can see a few millimeters of skin just beyond the nail margin. Nails should not overhang the edge of the toe.

• Refine the nail edge with an emery board, maintaining the straight edge.

• Massage cream or lotion into the foot. A foot massage can help relieve tension and tired, aching feet. You can get a good massage at home by rolling your feet back and forth over a rolling pin.

Common foot hygiene problems include nail fungus infection, foot rashes, ingrown toenails and sweaty feet. If a toenail looks brownish, yellowish, has light white patches, or is flaky, brittle, ragged and chipped, it may be a sign of nail fungus, which is more commonly found among the older population.

Factors that can increase the risk of developing nail fungus include: walking barefoot in a damp environment such as the area around a swimming pool; circulation problems; diabetes; or a weakened immune system. Nail fungus is difficult to treat. After diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe oral anti-fungal medications.

It is important to keep your feet dry. Sweaty feet can cause rashes and eczema. Avoid wearing nylon socks in plastic or tightly fitting shoes that may not allow the feet to dry properly, aggravating the problem. Wearing thick soft cotton socks helps draw moisture away from the feet.

If a rash occurs, it may be athlete’s foot, a fungus infection often found between the toes that typically responds well to treatment with anti-fungal powders and lotions, along with good foot hygiene.

 

Peggy Reilly is a freelance medical writer. 847-384-4379 or preilly@aofas.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 2, Apr/May 2010.

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