How to have healthy feet?

How to Care for Your Feet

Hiking, running and jumping are some of the enjoyable activities your feet allow you to do. Feet contain 26 bones and joints that support the body’s total weight and travel over 100,000 miles in the course of an average person’s lifetime. They allow you to stand, balance, walk, move about and contribute to the alignment of your skeletal system. Some people spend as much as 80 percent of their waking hours on their feet.

The condition of your feet is important to your physical and emotional well-being. Feet need to be kept strong, healthy and comfortable. They are highly susceptible to injury because of constant use. Every year, people spend millions of dollars on over-the-counter remedies to correct problems that can be prevented with proper foot care.

This information covers common foot problems and proper foot care as well as provides tips for good foot maintenance to help keep your feet in top condition.

Common Foot Problems
About 98 percent of all people are born with normal feet; however, most people eventually suffer some form of a foot disorder by adulthood. Children may start to show foot defects or damage as early as age two. Most foot problems are caused by improper foot care. Here are a few of the more common problems and suggestions for treatment.

Athlete’s Foot – a fungus infection of the skin. It may begin with tiny blisters which burst and dry up, causing the skin to flake, crack, itch and burn.
Treatment: Try to keep your feet clean and dry. Wear cotton socks to help absorb moisture and discourage fungal growth. Use an anti-fungus powder or solution. If sores don’t heal after one week, see your doctor.

Bunions – Swollen and tender areas caused by misaligned joints. Usually the big toe is affected and develops an overgrowth of bone.
Treatment: Special cushions worn in the shoe can alleviate some of the pressure caused by bunions. Cortisone injections may help alleviate swelling.

Corn and calluses – Hard, thickened skin which usually causes a painful and burning sensation. Corns form on the top of toes above a center joint or on the soles of your feet. Calluses form on the heel or ball of your foot.
Treatment: Wear properly fitted shoes to reduce the friction and pressure on the feet which causes corns and calluses. Occasionally, surgical removal is necessary.

Foot Cramps – Sudden, very painful cramps in the arch of the foot caused by strained muscles.
Treatment: Stretch the arch muscle and massage it until the cramp ends.

Foot Strain – Dull, pulsating ache in the arch due to fatigue or stress on the foot.
Treatment: Rest your feet, soak them in warm water and massage them. If the pain persists, seek medical attention.

Ingrown Toenail – Corners of the toenail cut into your skin and cause pain – especially when pressure is applied to the toe.
Treatment: Soak your toe in warm water and get early medical treatment to prevent infection. Your doctor may correct the problem surgically.

Onychomycosis (Toenail Fungus) – A fungus infection which grows under the toenail, causing thickening of the toenail.
Treatment: See your doctor. Several types of anti-fungal medications are available.

Some foot problems are signs of more serious trouble. Seek medical attention if your feet suffer from chronic infection, foot or leg cramps, coldness or discoloration.

Caring for Your Feet
Proper foot care also includes foot maintenance. Here are a few things you can do to keep your feet healthy and prevent problems.

• Keep your feet clean and dry — wash your feet, change your socks and air out your shoes to prevent fungus infections.
• Rest and relax your feet every day. Lie back and elevate your feet for a few minutes. Give your feet a soothing massage with your fingers or roll your feet over a golf ball, tennis ball or a rolling pin for a similar effect.
• Exercise your feet to maintain blood circulation. Walking is best. Try taking brisk 30-minute walks five to seven times a week.
• Check your feet regularly. Look for sores, cracked skin and redness. Don’t forget to inspect the areas between your toes.
• Clip your toenails straight across, leaving nails a little longer than the tips of your toes to avoid ingrown toenails.
• If you notice problems with your feet, get it treated right away so it does not get worse.

Tips for Buying Shoes
Many people who shop for shoes put style above comfort, cramming their feet into shoes that are too tight or too high. Ill-fitted shoes can cause many foot problems. Buy shoes that are right for your feet by following these tips:

• Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet tend to swell.
• Use the hosiery or socks you plan to wear regularly with the shoes when you try them on.
• Avoid very high heels, platform shoes, clogs and other extreme styles.
• Try on both sides of the shoes and walk around, jump, lean or jog to see how the shoe feels. Don’t buy uncomfortable shoes. They can make you miserable and seriously damage your foot or another part of your body.
• Make sure there is a thumb’s width between the end of your big toe and the tip of the shoe and the ball of your foot fits comfortably in the widest part of the shoe.
• Buy the size that fits your larger foot, if one foot is slightly bigger.
• Look at the shoes while wearing them. If they are being pushed out of shape, they are too tight, Leather and fabric shoes are the most comfortable since they mold to the shape of your feet.
• Check the shoes for good quality, strength and durability. Look for good workmanship such as smooth stitching and finished edges.
• DO NOT buy shoes that you have to “break in.”
• Remember that brand name shoes do not guarantee comfort. If “no name” shoes fit well, buy them.

Especially for children
Use the above guidelines to buy shoes for your child, and:

• Get the appropriate footwear to match your child’s activity.
• Buy shoes that fit your child now; over-sized shoes that the child can grow into can cause foot problems such as blisters.
• Avoid using hand-me downs to save money. Each child’s feet are different and shoes that fit one child may be uncomfortable for another.

Special Precautions
Everyone needs to take care of their feet. However, there are certain groups of people who need to take extra good care of their feet because they are likely to develop foot problems. These people include diabetics, the elderly, children and athletes.

Diabetics
Diabetes can cause poor circulation in the feet, making infection a serious danger. Here are some special tips for diabetics:

• Never go barefoot; wear shoes or slippers whenever possible.
• Try not to wear garters, rolled hose, tight girdles, tight or elasticized socks or ace bandages.
• Don’t cross your legs for extended periods of time.
• Wear comfortable shoes and socks.
• Use lotion on your feet to keep the skin soft and supple. Avoid letting your feet get cracked and dry.
• Do not treat corns and calluses yourself. See your doctor.
• Use only lukewarm water on your feet when you wash or soak them. Do not use hot water, heating pads, iodine or hot water bottles which can cause burns. Also, avoid Epsom salts or alcohol.

Older Adults
As you grow older, your feet are more prone to injury because of poor blood circulation. Older adults can protect their feet by following these suggestions.

• Be faithful about daily foot care.
• Try not to stand for long periods of time or over-exert yourself.
• Avoid over-the-counter remedies for foot ailments. See your doctor.
• Use properly fitted, good-quality shoes.
• Do not expose your feet to extreme temperatures.

Children
Children’s feet develop during the first 18 years of life; this is when abnormalities usually can occur. Give your child the best foot care possible:

• Allow babies to kick freely by leaving their covers loose or off.
• Try not to force your child to walk before he/she is ready.
• Be alert to abnormalities in your child’s walk. If you notice anything odd about the way your child walks or if he/she is bowlegged, pigeon-toed or flat-footed, inform your pediatrician.
• Teach your child about proper foot care.
• Check the fit of your child’s shoes regularly since their feet grow rapidly.

Athletes
Most sports put a lot of strain on the feet and demand the best performance from them. This makes feet extremely vulnerable to injury. You can prevent infections and injury by doing the following:

• Use shoes appropriate for your activity . Look for leather or fabric shoes which are cushioned and don’t cram your toes.
• Stretch and warm up before you begin any physical activity and take the time to cool down and stretch afterwards.
• Begin slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your activity at a comfortable pace.
• Keep your feet clean and dry; air out your shoes after using them and change your socks daily.
• Deal with injuries immediately. See a doctor for persistent pain or swelling.
• Listen to your body. Stubborn muscle cramps and spasms that can’t be worked out may be a signal for you to rest.

Protect Your Feet on the Job
More than 100,000 foot injuries result each year from accidents at work. These injuries can cause pain, suffering, disability and losses of time on the job and income. Save your feet and toes from disabling injuries by using the basic form of protection — the safety shoe. To get the most out of protective footwear:

• Ask your supervisor about the type of shoes you need for your job.
• Be aware that you can add special features to your shoes for protection against specific hazards.
• For maximum protection, choose your safety shoes carefully. They should protect your feet against any work hazard and be comfortable.
• Wear your protective footwear every time you need it.

Care for your protective footwear properly so it stays in good shape:

• Check them regularly for damage such as cracks or dampness which could lessen their effectiveness.
• Clean and condition them.
• Repair or replace them when necessary. Repairs made should not decrease the protective ability of the shoes.
• Let your supervisor know of any problems with your shoes.

8 Simple Ways To Take Good Care Of Your Feet

Foot problems are sometimes the first sign of more serious medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and nerve or circulatory disorders. Check your feet often, looking for cuts, blisters, or ingrown toenails. Talk with a doctor if you notice numbness or severe pain in your feet.

If you want to keep your feet looking their best, you have to take steps to preserve and maintain them. Here are eight ways to keep your feet looking their best all year long:

Wear Shoes that Fit

Some people are on their feet more than others — for example, waitresses and those who go on long daily runs — but we should all be wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes, whenever possible. The wrong shoes will wear your feet down pretty quickly. Shoes that are too small or just rub your feet the wrong way can cause unsightly blisters and corns. You should be especially careful when bringing home a new pair. Most shoes take awhile to break in, so you shouldn’t wear those cute new heels three days in a row.

Soak Your Feet Often

From time to time everyone’s feet will have rough or dry skin. To keep them soft and clean, be sure to soak your feet regularly. There is a number of fancy foot baths out there, but you really just need a bucket of warm water for a good soak. You can add some olive oil and few drops of scented essential oil of your choice (rose essential oil will be great) for additional luxury. It’s best to soak your feet for, approximately, ten to fifteen minutes; otherwise, your feet will become pruned, which isn’t very effective, if you’re trying to remove dead skin.

Scrub

After you’ve soaked your feet for a while, be sure to give them a good scrub to smooth rough or dry areas. You can use a foot or facial scrub if you’d like or you can take your feet out of the water and use a pumice stone to massage the rough areas. Remember: a pumice stone is more effective when your feet are still damp and you should always go with the grain of your feet.

Let Your Feet Breathe

It’s a good habit to take your shoes off after you get home, so that you can let your feet breathe. Otherwise, the sweat and dirt that build up in your shoes during the day — yes, your feet sweat, even if you always wear cotton socks — will continue to wear on your feet after hours. In the winter, you can also put on a fresh pair of cotton socks or slippers, especially, if you wash and lotion your feet beforehand, as the socks help lock in moisture. If you allow dirt and sweat to stay on your feet longer than necessary, you’re creating a breeding ground for athlete’s foot and other diseases.

Remove Your Polish

Over time, nail polish can wear down your nails. Before reapplying new polish, be sure to remove all of the old layers. If you can, let your toenails go polish-free for few hours and then, apply a polish that helps strengthen your nails.

Trim Your Nails to a Suitable Length

Broken and ingrown toenails aren’t just unsightly — they’re also painful. To prevent these ailments, make a point to regularly trim your toenails. Just be sure not to make the nail too short, as this can also cause discomfort.

Moisturizing treatment

If you want your feet to feel baby soft, you need to invest in a good foot cream or use natural oils. In general, your feet need a thicker cream than the rest of your body, as the skin on your feet is also thicker. Choose a cream with Vitamin E and coconut oil to keep your feet at their smoothest. Coconut oil foot massage is another simple way to soothe and hydrate tired feet. If you have some serious dry skin issues on your feet, try an overnight moisturizing treatment: simply massage your feet with cocoa butter and then, put on your favorite pair of cotton socks. Your feet will feel much softer when you wake up in the morning.

Wash with Purified Water

Some of us just seem to have feet that are more prone to ailments. If your feet dry out easily, you may consider washing them with treated well water or another kind of purified water. Water treatment systems can make a big difference in softening your skin.

During fashion month, everyone involved — editors, influencers, those working on the shows — winds up spending a lot of time on their feet. I mean, running from show to show while making sure you look good from head to toe is no easy feat. You’re dealing with incredibly painful blisters and aching soles and arches from too much walking around in heels. With fashion month (and fall) just beginning, we decided that now is as good a time as ever to stop putting up with the pain and give your feet the TLC they deserve.

What are blisters, and how do you get them?

“Blisters are basically a pocket of fluid between the upper layers of skin,” says Sejal Shah, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City. “The most common causes are friction, a burn , freezing, and infection.”

According to Suzanne Levine, a podiatrist based in New York City, you want to limit the amount of contact your feet (bare and otherwise) have with your shoes. When there’s enough friction, it can cause inflammation, which means the skin cells separate from each other and painful blisters can develop. It’s natural to want to buy new shoes each season (who doesn’t love buying new boots for fall?!), but blisters are more likely to develop when shoes are new because the material is more stiff, which can end up causing more friction.

“When purchasing any shoe or sneaker, it should fit in the store. It should not have to be broken in,” says Levine. “You definitely want to make sure they fit by checking the width and length. There should be about a finger’s width of space in front of your longest toe.” Remember: If the shoe doesn’t fit or feel good, just don’t wear it!

Levine also believes heels should not be higher than two and a half inches. If you need to go higher for an event, wear them only at the event, and make sure you bring a pair of comfortable shoes.

And if a pair of shoes ends up causing you a blister: “If possible, do not continue wearing the shoes that are causing the problem,” Levine says. “If you do not have a different pair of shoes with you, cover with a Band-Aid and change shoes when possible.” If your arches hurt from wearing high heels, she also recommends shoe inserts or orthotics specifically designed for high heels as they can help alleviate problems.

How do you prevent blisters?

But what can you do to actually prevent blisters?

Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City, says it’s important to apply bandages to the sensitive areas of the feet that you know will be rubbing up against your shoes even before you get a blister to prevent direct contact to the skin.

He also says to “make sure the feet are well hydrated, as dry, inflamed skin is more sensitive.” He recommends moisturizers that contain ingredients like “colloidal oatmeal, petrolatum, or ceramides” as they will help “form a protective barrier over the skin.”

”If you’re athletic,” Levine says, “I would definitely look for a good-quality pair of white athletic socks.” This is because athletic socks have padding in necessary areas and are designed to wick sweat away. If needed, you can try wearing two pairs of socks, if they fit comfortably in your athletic shoes. And materials-wise, she says natural materials, like cotton, are best for sensitive feet.

How do you heal blisters?

Have you ever wondered whether you should pop a blister? Well, “it’s best not to pop them…because that’s when people end up with all kinds of infections,” says Levine. According to Zeichner, the outer barrier of the blister acts as “a biologic dressing” akin to “nature’s Band-Aid” as a means to protect the underlying skin.

10 Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy

Healthy feet are important for feeling good and staying active. So if you neglect your feet, that can lead to unnecessary pain and other foot problems, says Elizabeth Kurtz, DPM, a podiatrist in Chicago and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your feet healthy. Use these tips to keep yourself active and your feet pain-free.

  1. Keep your feet clean and dry. Healthy feet start with good hygiene. Thoroughly clean and scrub your feet with soap and water when you bathe. Afterward, dry them well. Fungal organisms love moisture, so depriving them of any wetness will make it more difficult for them to thrive. “Be sure to dry well between each individual toe,” says Dr. Kurtz. “Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin.”
  2. Examine your feet for problems. Perform a foot self-exam once a week when you take a bath or shower, recommends Kurtz. As you’re drying off your feet, take a good look on the soles for any scaling and between your toes for peeling areas. That could signal athlete’s foot. Also look for discoloration of the nails, which could indicate a nail fungus. If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day since diabetes leads to higher risk of foot sores and infections.
  3. Cut toenails properly. Cut nails straight across and avoid trimming too close to the skin or drastically rounding the corners of the nails, which can cause painful, ingrown toenails.
  4. Don’t hide “ugly” toenails with polish. A discolored, thick, cracked, or crumbling nail could signal a nail fungus. Applying nail polish to an infected nail could make the problem worse.
  5. Protect your feet in public areas. Be sure to wear shower shoes at the gym, in locker rooms, and at public pools. These places tend to be breeding grounds for fungi that can lead to infections.
  6. Avoid sharing footgear. “You can get fungal infections by wearing other people’s shoes, as well as socks worn by another person,” says Kurtz. This includes rentals. Always wear your own footgear to help keep your feet healthy.
  7. Head off sweaty feet. Your feet have sweat glands galore — 250,000 in each foot! Perspiration creates the perfect environment for bacteria to set up shop. Wearing socks that keep feet dry will help your feet stay healthy. “Socks made of synthetic fibers tend to wick away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks,” says Kurtz. Also avoid wearing excessively tight pantyhose, which trap moisture.
  8. Choose breathable footwear. To help keep your feet dry and healthy, wear shoes made of leather to allow air to circulate. If you’re prone to excessively sweaty feet, look for shoes made of mesh fabrics for maximum breathability.
  9. Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too tight can cause long-term foot problems, says Kurtz. Shop for shoes at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that occurs later in the day, and wear the same type of socks or hosiery you’ll be wearing with the shoes. Choose a broad, rounded shoe with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, stable heel. Avoid pointy shoes, which can cramp your toes and cause ingrown toenails and calluses.
  10. Know when to see a doctor. Don’t attempt to self-treat painful foot woes. “I see many patients who have attempted what I call bathroom surgery, and they’ve made the problem worse,” says Kurtz. Any pain, redness, swelling, or discoloration that persists should be checked out by a podiatric physician. Usually the problem can be cleared up with prescription medicine or a minor in-office procedure. Allowing a doctor to take a look will help prevent minor problems from becoming major ones.

By following these 10 easy tips, you can help keep your feet healthy and pain-free.

A Healthy Body Starts With Health Feet

The human foot is a marvel of biomechanical engineering that most of us take for granted until the system fails or breaks down. The average person will walk the equivalent of twice around the world in a lifetime, which is a long time on your feet.

Podiatrists who are part of the UCLA Medical Group offer the following tips for helping maintain healthy feet and avoiding complications. The physicians are board-certified, provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions, and also have expertise in the management of diabetic foot problems and sports injuries.

10 Tips to Maintain Healthy Feet

  1. Inspect your feet regularly and pay attention to changes in color, texture or appearance.
  2. Maintain good foot hygiene, including washing and drying between the toes.
  3. Hydrate the skin. Southern California weather and open shoes can cause rapid loss of moisture from the skin and may result in cracking or the formation of fissures. It is helpful to replace the moisture content by using lotions or creams on a regular basis.
  4. Buy proper-size shoes. You may not wear the same size in shoes made by different manufacturers. Purchase new shoes late in the day, when feet tend to be at their largest. Always buy the shoes that feel the best.
  5. Don’t ignore foot pain. Symptoms that increase or do not resolve within a reasonable period of time need to be evaluated by your podiatric physician.
  6. Cut toenails straight across. Never cut into the corners — this could cause an ingrown toenail. Gently file away sharp corners or rough edges with an emery board.
  7. Exercise. Walking is a great way to keep weight under control and is an excellent conditioner for the feet. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.
  8. Alternate your shoes each day. Since the feet have sweat glands, your shoes will absorb moisture from your feet, so it is important to allow your shoes to dry out completely.
  9. Avoid walking barefoot to help protect your feet from injury and infection.
  10. Put sunblock on your feet while wearing sandals during the day to avoid sunburn. Source: UCLA Health System

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1. Beat Athlete’s Foot
A fungal infection that flourishes in warm and moist places, athlete’s foot attacks the toes, soles or sides of your feet and causes itchy, scaly and cracked skin. It can usually be cleared up with an over-the-counter antifungal medication that contains either miconazole or tolnaftate. If the condition persists longer than 2 weeks, however, see your doctor for a drug prescription.

To prevent athlete’s foot, keep your feet clean and dry. Use an antifungal powder on them regularly. Wear shoes made of materials that breathe such as leather and canvas, and socks that wick away moisture. Always allow your shoes, especially sneakers or running shoes, to dry out completely between wearings. Switch to a different pair of shoes every day.

2. Treat and Prevent Blisters
Caused by continuous friction against the skin, liquid-filled blisters should be covered with a sterile gauze pad and allowed to heal on their own. You can protect the area from further irritation with a moleskin or cotton circle designed for that purpose and available at most drug stores.

If a blister is very large, you may want to puncture it. Sterilize a needle with antiseptic (not a match flame) and prick the edge of the blister. Blots up the liquid with gauze, clean the area with antiseptic, and cover it with a sterile gauze pad.

3. How to Care for Bunions
The bony protrusion that some people develop at the base of the big toe is called a bunion. It may be hereditary or, in women, caused by wearing high-heeled shoes with pointed toes. Bunion sufferers should wear comfortable shoes that will not press on the affected bone. Soft pads or cushioned socks will give additional relief. Most bunions can simply be accommodated in this way. If osteoarthritis or bursitis makes a bunion chronically painful, however, your doctor may recommend surgery to realign the distorted bones.

4. Removing Corns
Like calluses, corns are caused by rubbing and friction on cramped toes. Hard corns develop on top of toes, soft corns between toes. Both can be prevented by wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly.

You can remove some corns yourself. Soak your feet in warm water every day and gently rub the built-up skin with a towel or a pumice stone – the surface will gradually peel away. Never slice a corn with a razor blade; if the growth is stubborn or painful, see a podiatrist. In the interim, use lambs wool or moleskin pads to protect the tender spots.

5. Treatment for Hammertoes
A deformity that develops in the joint of the second, third or fourth toe, a hammertoe is more common in women than in men and probably results from wearing high heels with pointed toes. Protective pads can bring relief, or our podiatrist may suggest wearing an orthotic brace to manoeuvre the bent toe in a more comfortable position. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

6. Healing Ingrown Toenails
An ingrown toenail usually develops when either corner of a big toenail grows into the flesh of the toe, causing redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes infection.

A doctor or podiatrist can cut away the ingrown nail and treat the infection with antibiotics. To prevent further trouble, make sure that your shoes don’t put undue pressure on the nails of your big toes. Cut your toenails straight across at the end of the toe.

If, after several treatments, an ingrown toenail keeps recurring, ask your podiatrist about surgical options for preventing it.

7. Painful Heel Syndrome
As you grow older, the heel’s fatty tissue thins out. Pressure on the heel causes inflammation of the connective tissue and muscle. The pain is greatest in the morning when you first stand up.

For acute discomfort, take an analgesic and apply an ice pack to the heel for 15 minutes. Gently massage and stretch the foot and elevate it whenever you can. Ask your doctor for shock-absorbing heel inserts. During an attack, which can last several months, limit your exercise to non weight-bearing activities such as swimming and bicycling.

5 ways to keep your feet healthy for better mobility


Feet are easy to neglect — but it pays dividends when you take care of them. As we age, chronic foot pain and common foot problems (such as tendinitis, bunions, and arthritis) can increasingly limit mobility.

But taking a few simple steps to care for your feet can help you preserve — or even improve — your mobility. Here are five of our favorites.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight affects your feet by putting greater force on them with each step. It can also increase your risk of having a condition like arthritis in the feet and worsen pain from other foot problems. Being overweight can also harm foot health by putting you at higher risk for diabetes or poor blood circulation, which can lead to foot pain and loss of sensation in the feet.
  2. Wear good shoes. Shoe fashions come and go, but a lifetime of wearing comfortable shoes is one of the best preventive measures you can take to ensure your mobility. Wearing tight shoes or high heels now and then for a night out won’t cause lasting damage. But when you know you’ll be on your feet most of the day, choose supportive, comfortable shoes. Invest in well-fitting athletic shoes for running, aerobics, and other high-impact activities.
  3. Moisturize your feet. The skin of the feet tends to get thinner and drier with age; callused feet can crack and bleed, causing pain. To keep the skin soft, rub a thick moisturizing lotion into your feet after showers or baths as needed (but avoid the spaces in between the toes, where too much moisture can lead to infections).
  4. Practice good foot hygiene. Wash and dry your feet thoroughly when you shower or bathe. Cut toenails straight across to avoid ingrown nails. Use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove calluses. If you wear nail polish on your toes, keep the nails healthy by letting them “breathe” for a couple of days after you remove it and before adding more.
  5. Stretch your feet. People don’t usually think about stretching the tops and bottoms of their feet, but stretches can help you treat — and prevent — foot pain. Stretches for the Achilles’ tendon are also important.

For more ways to preserve your mobility as you age, read Mobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: iStock

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

The Importance of Keeping Your Feet Healthy

By John J. Oricchio, DPM FACFS | Podiatry & Foot and Ankle Surgery

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month and CareMount Medical is encouraging patients to think about their feet and how important taking care of them really is. Our feet are often over looked as a vital part of the body and most tend to ignore issues that are affecting their feet.

Both feet (combined) make up for 25% of the body’s bones, 18% of joints and 6% of the muscles. Doing damage to any of these parts can cause serious harm to our bodies and how we complete our daily tasks. One of the best ways to stay healthy is by moving, whether it is through activities like running/walking, dancing, weight lifting or even just cleaning your house. However, because this is an important aspect of living a healthy life, our feet are the ones that get the most wear and tear. All this pressure and movement will not only leave your feet sore but can also affect your knees, hips and entire spine. The following are some strategies on how you can keep your feet healthy.

Keep your feet clean and dry

As with any part of your body, healthy feet start with good hygiene. While bathing, thoroughly clean your feet with soap and water. After bathing, be sure to fully dry them, especially between each toe, as fungal organisms love moisture. Keeping your feet dry helps to lower the possibility of a fungal infection. Continue this by wearing clean and dry socks. Also avoid sharing footwear; including rentals, as wearing other people’s shoes can increase your odds of getting an infection.

Examine your feet regularly

Once you have dried your feet, take the time to examine your feet at least once a week. Check in between your toes and around your soles for scaling and/or peeling which is often an indication of athlete’s foot. Be sure to look for cuts, blisters, scratches, redness and swelling as catching these issues early can prevent serious complications later. Also, check for any discoloration of the toenails, which often indicates a nail fungus. Avoid putting any nail polish on an infected nail as this could possibly make the problem worse.

Wear the proper footwear

Always wear sports-specific shoes for the sport you are participating in. Wearing improper shoes can lead to potential foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, arch spasms, heel spurs and tendinitis. When shopping for shoes, try to shop at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that may occur throughout the day. Wearing tight shoes can result in long-term foot problems, so ensure that you are purchasing shoes that have plenty of room for your toes and a wide heel. Never walk barefoot, as shoes and slippers are the simplest way to protect your foot from bumps and bruises.

If you are diabetic, get regular foot checks

Diabetes can lead to circulatory problems because of its ability to clog up the small blood vessels in your feet. As a result of the lack of proper blood supply, wound healing can be prolonged if any are sustained. Wounds found on the feet of a diabetic must be treated more aggressively than those who are not diabetic.

Get periodic foot exams

Visit a podiatrist if you’re experiencing any aches, pains, symptoms or have any questions about the health of your feet. From there your podiatrist can determine or diagnose any problem and recommend how often you should visit a doctor for your feet.

10 Great Tips to Keeping Your Feet Healthy and Happy

Maintaining our feet healthy and clean should be our everyday priority. Keeping your feet healthy and happy is very easy to do and can be done in the comfort of your home. Your feet take care of you, so take care of your feet! Below are great tips to keeping your feet healthy and happy all year-round.

Keeping Your Feet Healthy in Ten Easy Steps

1. Wear properly fitted shoes

Your shoes should not hurt your feet; on the contrary, you should protect your feet and work on keeping your feet healthy. Your shoes should feel comfortable and provide you the support you need to keep you going through your busy day. Properly fitted shoes should provide a half-inch of space between the tip of your shoe and your longest shoes; whereas, improperly fitted shoes can lead to painful foot problems.

2. Keep your feet clean and dry

Foot hygiene is extremely important to maintain. This is something that we should keep up on a daily basis and shouldn’t be avoided. Every day when you bathe, soak your feet in soapy water and use a soft towel, loofah or sponge to scrub the dirt away. Once you finish scrubbing your feet, don’t forget to dry your feet from excess moisture since it can promote the growth of bacteria and fungi. Great foot hygiene helps in keeping your feet healthy and happy!

3. Cut/trim toenails correctly

If you noticed your toenails are a bit too long, it might be time to cut your toe nails! When you are cutting your toe nails, avoid cutting too close to your skin or drastically rounding the corners of your nails. Your nail edge should grow past the flesh of your toe. Cut your nails straight across and don’t cut too low at the edges.

4. Avoid sharing shoes

Stick to wearing your own shoes and socks to help keep your feet healthy. Sharing shoes is not a good idea as fungal infections can be spread through other people’s shoes and sharing socks.

5. Wear breathable shoes

Allow for your feet and toes to breathe a little! Open shoes such as comfortable sandals and leather shoes allow air to circulate to keep your feet dry and healthy.

6. Avoid flimsy flip-flops

Cheap flip-flops that most people wear lack the proper support you need. They tend to hurt your feet because they are flat and don’t offer the cushioning nor provide the support. As a result, when you wear flimsy flip-flops, they pull on their plantar fascia, causing your foot pain and arch pain. However, if you prefer to wear flip-flops, stick to purchasing supportive flip-flops with arch support, deep heel cups and cushioning. .

7. Wear supportive flip-flops or sandals in public places

The fungi that cause most athlete’s foot thrive in warm moist environments. Therefore, walking barefoot in public places such as locker rooms and pools opens you to infection. The best way in keeping your feet healthy is by wearing supportive flip-flops in shower rooms, locker rooms, pools, and all public places.

8. Avoid going barefoot

Walking barefoot both indoors and outdoors can be very tempting and we all probably have done it before. However, you should consider kicking this bad habit as walking barefoot can impact your foot health. You should resist the urge of walking barefoot as it leaves you vulnerable to infections and injuries. .

9. Examine your feet for foot problems

Try to perform a foot examine on a regular basis or at least once a week after your shower or bath. When drying off your feet, take a close look at your soles and look for any scaling between your toes or peeling areas, discolored toenails and anything else that may seem abnormal to you. If you happen to notice any of the below foot problems such as ingrown toenails, nail fungus, blisters, corns, or cracked heels; seek treatment immediately. Addressing foot problems at an early stage can help in keeping your feet healthy and happy.

10. Hydrate your body

Drink plenty of fluids, especially during hot days. Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and can help minimize swelling in our feet that could occur due to the heat. Carry a bottle of water everywhere you go and drink as much as you need. In addition, consider swapping your sugary drinks for water.

Where to Buy Comfortable Shoes and Sandals

Come into any one of our stores located in Costa Mesa, Anaheim Hills, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Dimas, Long Beach, Temecula, La Quinta and Palm Desert! Visit us today so you can try on a pair of Comfortable Shoes and Sandals!

Orange County

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Brea, Orange, Placentia, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Irvine, Villa Park or Tustin; then visit our store in Anaheim Hills or Costa Mesa.

Los Angeles County

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in San Dimas, Long Beach, Cerritos, Glendora, Pomona, Covina, West Covina, La Verne, Azusa, Diamond Bar or Claremont; then visit our store in San Dimas or Long Beach for your footwear needs.

Inland Empire

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Upland, Fontana, Rialto, Chino, Chino Hills, Mira Loma, Eastvale, Colton or San Bernardino; then visit our store in Rancho Cucamonga for your footwear needs.

Riverside

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Rubidoux, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Redlands or Norco; then visit our store in Riverside for your footwear needs.

Temecula

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in the Temecula Valley, Murrieta, Fallbrook, Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Hemet, San Jacinto, Pala, Sun City, Menifee, Canyon Lake, Perris, Bonsall or Anza; then visit our store in Temecula for your footwear needs.

La Quinta

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in Indio, Coachella, Thermal, Vista Santa Rosa, Valerie; then visit our store in La Quinta for your footwear needs.

Palm Desert

If you are looking for Comfortable Shoes and Sandals in Cathedral City, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Desert Springs, Rancho Mirage or Bermuda Dunes; then visit our store in Palm Desert for your footwear needs.
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If you don’t wash your feet, we’re definitely not saying you’re setting yourself up for a staph infection as a consequence. It’s entirely possible that you’ve made it this far in life without ever washing your feet and have gotten by just fine. But it’s still a possibility worth keeping in mind.

  • Athlete’s foot: Athlete’s foot (or tinea pedis) is a common fungal infection that people tend to pick up when they walk barefoot in moist, public places, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This is because damp, humid environments allow the fungus involved to thrive.

Athlete’s foot can cause a bunch of unpleasant symptoms like itchiness, a scaly rash, flaky skin, and cracking on the soles of your feet and between your toes, the Mayo Clinic says. It can even spread to your hands, nails, and groin area through your hands or a towel.

Luckily, antifungals can help to kick a case of athlete’s foot, the Mayo Clinic says. But you can do yourself a solid by wearing flip-flops when you walk around wet public places, washing your feet well when you shower, and thoroughly drying your feet afterward, Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, tells SELF.

If your feet tend to be sweatier than the average person’s, like if you have the excessive sweating condition hyperhidrosis, you’re at a higher-than-usual risk of developing athlete’s foot. If this describes you, Dr. Zeichner recommends washing your feet immediately after you work out or otherwise get your feet especially sweaty, just to be safe.

  • Plantar warts: These growths happen when human papillomavirus (HPV) enters your body through an opening in the skin on the bottom of your foot, the Mayo Clinic says. As with the culprit behind athlete’s foot, this virus tends to flourish in warm, moist areas.

Plantar warts are weird little bits of callused skin that typically grow on pressure-bearing parts of the foot like the heel. These growths are sometimes dotted with black spots, indicating clotted blood vessels. And instead of protruding, they actually grow inward, according to the Mayo Clinic. As you might guess, this can lead to a ton of tenderness when you’re walking or standing. It can feel like you have pebbles in your shoes even when you don’t, the AAD explains. Surely that would qualify as the 10th circle of hell?

Technically you can still pick up plantar warts (and these other foot issues) if you have good foot hygiene, but regularly washing your feet lowers the odds that pathogens will just be hanging out on your foot where they can potentially cause problems, Dr. Lee says. “The more regularly you’re washing your feet, the less likely that viruses, fungus, and bacteria are going to infect your skin,” he explains.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should wash your feet, though.

It really depends on your lifestyle and habits. If you shower once a day or every couple of days and have never had any foot issues but still want to be cautious, add scrubbing your feet to your usual routine. But if you work out enough that your feet are constantly soaked in perspiration or tend to have super sweaty feet as a quirk of your biology, it might not be a bad idea to shower your feet with even more cleansing attention.

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7 secrets to prettier-looking feet

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  • Using cotton socks at night after using a foot cream is a great way to reduce evaporative loss and keep the moisture sealed in
  • Moisturizing after a shower is always a good idea to help the skin retain moisture
  • 4. Protect

    Prevention is better than cure. You can protect your feet from dryness and damage with some simple steps:

    1. Avoid long hours bare-feet. Use a pair of low-cost floaters indoors – this will reduce dirt pickup and resultant dryness and irritation.
    2. Avoid walking with your heels on (actually avoid heels altogther, if you can). If you do have to wear heels, keep them as low as possible, and avoid moving around too much.
    3. Ill-fitting shoes are the #1 cause of corns and blisters on feet. (Explanation: the constant friction due to poor fitment causes local skin to harden, as a natural defensive measure. That’s a callus, that later becomes a corn. Painful.)

    5. Go pro – the right way

    Feet care needs expert attention more often than, say, hand care. To get this right, we’d recommend:

    1. Seeing a qualified doctor (and not a beauty spa), if you have issues related to ingrown nails, infections or painful corns. These are medical conditions needing medical attention
    2. Going in for a pedicure or foot spa regularly will ensure that steps (1) – (3) are done well. Just make sure you pick a good, hygienic place.
    3. Cracked heels or blisters that don’t heal for weeks on end could signal more serious health issues. Make sure you don’t delay seeing a doctor if these symptoms do not improve over more than 3-4 weeks.

    6. Polish smart

    Every nail polish isn’t a nail polish. The wrong chemicals on toenails can cause discolouration, brittleness of nails and a host of other problems. Make sure you buy a brand that you can trust. Besides, always have a base coat on, before you layer on the colour. That will help protect your nails.

    7. No blades, please

    Unless you are a surgeon, you should lay off knives, blades and other DIY tools to “fix” your feet. Never try to remove dry skin, calluses or blisters yourself – it is almost guaranteed to make things terrible. So take it easy and go see a pro!

    Taking care of feet does involve a little bit of effort, but walking those extra steps pays off handsomely. And is almost guaranteed to win you compliments!

    Related products:

    Choco-Latte Not Just Another Foot Cream

    The Hand & Foot Care Bundle

    Wild Cherries & Kiwi Oh-So-Polished Body Scrub

    Vanilla & Fig Feel The Fudge Body Butter

    Wild Cherries & Kiwi Softilicious Body Butter

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