Caring for your feet is not difficult, but many of us overlook our feet. If taking care of your feet is not currently a part of your grooming routine, it can be easily incorporated. Read on for our tips on foot care. As with any medical advice you may find on the web, please be sure to consult a physician before starting any new health regimen.
Basic foot care
- Wash your feet - Use soap and warm water when you bathe or when your feet have been sweating or are otherwise dirty.
- Dry your feet - After washing, dry your feet thoroughly to prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot. Pay close attention when drying between the toes as this area is particularly susceptible to fungal infections.
- Moisturize - Use lotion on your feet to prevent cracking; don't put the lotion between your toes, since moisture here can increase the risk of fungal infection.
- Do not soak your feet - Foot soaks can break down the skin and actually cause damage. They also increase the chance of infection.
- Trim toenails - Regularly trim nails straight across with a nail clipper. Cutting straight across (versus rounding the nail or cutting the sides) will prevent ingrown toe nails. Smooth the nails with an emery board if they are jagged.
- You should also examine your feet periodically. If you have numbness from diabetes or nerve damage in the feet, examine your feet everyday and see a podiatrist four to six times per year. If you can't see parts of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone to help.
When examining your feet, look for:
- Cuts/scratches - If you find any, wash them with soap and water and then cover with an antibiotic cream and bandage. If your cut has redness or any discharge, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Dry skin - Use moisturizing soaps and lotions to keep your skin soft, but don't put lotion between toes; moisture there can cause fungus growth.
- Blisters - Wear shoes that fit properly to prevent blistering. If you do get a blister, don't break it open, as this may cause a risk for infection. Clean the blister and cover with antibacterial cream and a bandage.
- Cracking, itching, red skin between the toes - These are symptoms of a fungal infection. See a doctor as soon as possible to get medication.
- Corns/calluses - After bathing, use emery board or pumice stone to slowly begin removing these. Do not try to remove them in one go, as this will likely damage healthy skin. Over the counter remedies for corns and calluses are not recommended; never try to cut or remove a corn or callus.
- Plantar warts - These viral warts can develop on the soles of the feet, can often be painful, and look much like a callus. Consult a doctor for treatment.
- Ingrown toenails - Ingrown toenails are those that have grown into the skin and are cutting into it. Some complications include pain, redness, and infection. You should see a doctor if you have an ingrown toenail.
- Discolored/yellowed toenails - Yellow nails that are thick and brittle are usually indicative of a fungal nail infection. Ask your doctor about long-term medication to treat the infection.
- Redness, warmth, swelling, pain - These symptoms of inflammation and infection are serious and should be given immediate medical attention.
- Blue or black skin color - These are signs of blood flow issues and are a serious medical emergency. Go to a hospital immediately.
Call Your Doctor if You Notice:
- Changes in skin color
- Changes in skin temperature
- Swelling in your foot or ankle
- Pain in your legs
- Open sores on your feet that are draining or slow to heal
- Ingrown toenails or toenails infected with fungus
- Corns or calluses
- Dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel
- Unusual and/or persistent foot odor
How to Protect Your Feet
- Don't go barefoot.
- Wear only flat shoes that cover your feet.
- Break in new footwear gradually.
- Make sure shoes fit properly.
- Always wear cotton or wool socks.
- Buy shoes when wearing your normal socks.