We are careful about properly maintaining most parts of our bodies, from the critical care of our hearts, joints, and muscles to the more superficial, external aspects like hair and nail care. Many people, however, tend to neglect their feet, which can lead to several foot problems that significantly impact your quality of life. As people age, the likelihood of a food condition developing increases. Fortunately, there are ways you can perform healthy foot care at home throughout your week.
Foot Care You Can Do at Home Every Week
Keep Your Feet Clean
Maintaining healthy feet begins with good hygiene. It’s easy to assume that our feet get clean while bathing by simply receiving any water and soap that surrounds them. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Just like your hair, underarms, and other sensitive areas, your feet hold bacteria and odors that need to be scrubbed away. Thoroughly clean your feet with soap and water with a clean washcloth, sponge, or loofah while you bathe, especially between the toes.
The skin of the foot is particularly susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections due to the fact that they are often covered in warm socks and shoes for a large part of the day. Even when your feet are not covered, they are being constantly exposed to dust, grime, and environmental bacterias that are easily trapped between your toes. This area becomes a perfect environment for fungal infections to thrive since dirt and sweat are so easily trapped there.
Keep Your Feet Dry
After the thorough daily cleaning of your feet, dry them well. Because fungal organisms thrive in wet environments, depriving them of any moisture will make it difficult for them to flourish. This includes drying between each individual toe, as any excess moisture in these small areas can quickly lead to a bacterial or fungal infection.
After you’ve dried your feet thoroughly, it’s important to keep them dry until their next cleaning. As mentioned, damp areas lead to fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, which can lead to itching, burning, or the peeling of the skin. In some cases, athlete’s foot can also lead to painful blisters. It is important to wear breathable socks and give your feet breaks throughout the day to allow them to stay dry.
Moisturize the Skin
Sometimes we forget that lotions don’t only belong on our hands and face. Lack of skin moisturizing often leads to your skin feeling dry, scaly, or chapped. Chapped skin can become extremely dry and hard, particularly on the heels. Dry and hard heels attract dirt and grime, which then begin to stick to your feet. Chapped and cracking heels aren’t only unattractive, they can become extremely painful.
After cleaning, remember to moisturize your feet after you’ve thoroughly dried them. This is a great way to keep your skin feeling soft and smooth, which will help to prevent the skin from becoming rough or cracking. Just be sure to allow the lotion to dry before covering your feet with socks and shoes.
Remove Dead Skin
As needed, gently scrub your feet with a pumice stone or exfoliant to remove any dead skin. This is especially necessary during summer when you may be wearing sandals, or no shoes, for a majority of the day. Removing the dead skin will help the feet to feel smooth and refreshed, while also allowing any moisturizer to be absorbed properly into the skin. Always remove dead skin in a very mild way, so as not to damage the healthy skin.
A rough loofah, gentle pumice stone, or liquid exfoliant are great ways to achieve this goal without fear of damaging your feet. Always wash your feet first, to remove the dirt and grime, and follow with a moisturizer. Never attempt to cut or remove any calluses, corns, or cracked skin. Rough skin that cannot be remedied with a gentle scrubbing may need to be seen by a podiatrist.
Trim Toenails Often
Just as you trim your fingernails, your toenails need to be trimmed, too. Trimming them weekly will help to avoid ingrown toenails, which can become painful, especially if that nail begins feeling pressure from the inside of your shoe. Toenails that become too long can feel painful in your shoe and can rip unintentionally, which can lead to an infection. The use of nail and cuticle oils is a great addition to your routine to keep the skin from splitting.
To trim toenails, cut the nail straight across. Avoid trimming too close to your skin and do not round the corners of your nails, as this shape can increase the likelihood of ingrown toenails. If you begin to notice any of your nails are discolored, do not ignore it by covering it with nail polish. Discolored, thick, cracked, or crumbling nails need to be evaluated by a podiatrist, as it could be a sign of a nail fungus.
Examine Your Feet For Inconsistencies
Once a week, perform a foot self-exam. After you’ve taken a bath or shower, dry your feet thoroughly and take a good look at your nails and on the soles for any changes. If you begin to notice any scaling or peeling areas between your toes, this could be a sign of athlete’s foot.
With frequent self-examinations, you will be able to catch any discolorations, patches of dry skin, or calluses that may be forming. The earlier you catch any problems, the sooner your podiatrist can help prevent the problem from worsening. If you have diabetes, daily self-examinations are encouraged since patients with diabetes have a higher risk of infections and foot sores.
Always Choose Properly Fitting Shoes
Poor choice of footwear can lead to many foot problems, including ingrown toenails, fungal infections, blisters, and so much more. From slight pains to full hammertoes, the shoes you put on your feet have a big impact on your overall foot health. The shoes you wear most often should be comfortable, supportive, and well-fitted.
Know When to See a Podiatrist
While regular self-examinations are beneficial to know when changes occur, you should never attempt to self-treat any painful foot woes. Never attempt to cut the skin in any way or to use any non-prescribed methods of treating persistent redness, swelling, or discoloration. These concerns should always be checked by a podiatrist. Typically, the issue can be cleared up with a minor in-office procedure or a prescription medicine.
Never ignore a growing concern or a nagging question you have in your mind. You know your body best and if something isn’t behaving the way you expect it to. If you’re unsure if you need professional foot care, consult a trusted and qualified podiatrist. Our team of experts can help to diagnose any foot problems you may be experiencing and help get your feet walking on the road to recovery.
Feet are our body’s foundations and keeping them healthy is vital to our overall health. A lifetime of wear and tear is bound to be hard on our feet, so maintaining them properly is critical. Take care of your feet for daily comfort, but seek help at the first sign of trouble. Contact Island Foot Clinics today to let us address any of your podiatry concerns.