According to the College of Podiatry, nine out of 10 individuals experience a foot problem and one in five suffer with constant foot pain. Neglecting the feet can lead to unnecessary aches and other foot-related health problems, and can even affect the way you walk. Symptoms can also be a sign of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and kidney or heart disease. Here’s how to keep your feet healthy and pain-free.
Check your feet frequently
Once a week, inspect the soles of the feet for scaling and look for any peeling between the toes that could indicate athlete’s foot. Nail fungus can be identified by discolouration of the nails, and diabetes may cause visible foot sores and infections.
Wash often & dry well
Daily washing with soap and water is necessary to maintain foot hygiene. Fungal organisms thrive in moisture, so it is important to thoroughly dry the feet and the space between toes.
Moisturise & file
Applying a moisturising cream to the feet (avoiding between the toes) can replenish dry skin. For hard skin and calluses, soften the feet in warm water and use a pumice stone or a foot file to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells.
Trim toenails properly
When trimming toenails, it is important to cut straight across. Cutting at an angle, cutting too close to the skin or cutting down the edges of the nail can cause painful ingrown toenails.
Wear suitable shoes
Wear heels and pointed shoes sparingly, as these can damage your feet and cause calluses. On the other hand, wearing flip-flops too often can cause arch and heel pain. Shoes that do not fit properly can also cause long-term foot problems.
Change your socks
Changing your socks daily will help your feet stay fresh and odourless. Bacteria are more likely to sit on the surface of polyester and synthetic fabrics, causing fungal infections.
Avoid foot bugs
Protect your feet in public areas—such as gym showers and public swimming pools—by wearing flip-flops. These areas can be breeding grounds for fungi, which cause infection.
Sharing is not caring
Sharing shoes and socks can invite fungal infections to the feet. This includes rental shoes, such as those at a bowling alley.
There are 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet, and sweat is the perfect cause for bacteria to thrive. Shoes made of leather or mesh fabrics will provide air circulation and help the feet to breathe.
Know when to see a doctor
Self-treating foot conditions can often make the problem worse. Talk to a doctor about any persistent swelling, discolouration or pain to prevent the development of more severe complaints. Symptoms can normally be cleared up with prescription medicines, orthopaedic insoles or minor procedures.
This article was originally published in Live to 100 with Dr Hilary Jones. Read the digital edition, here.