Thursday, 18 December 2014

10 Good Foot Habits for the New Year

Perhaps, the most neglected part of our bodies is our feet. We take them for granted, hardly ever spare a thought for them, and probably never bother to look after them. They bear the entire weight of the body, take you wherever you want to go, enhance your gait, bear the pressures of your fashion footwear, but never ever complain. Well, not always!

It is time to treat your feet with a little love and care if you have not been doing so. This New Year, let’s make a resolution to pay attention to our feet.

Here are some good foot habits you could plan for the coming year. These are designed to assist in creating a routine for you – a regime for caring for those tired feet of yours! Once this regime becomes a habit, just watch how happy your feet start looking.

Rule 1: Examine the feet daily

Make time to examine every bit of your feet. Check if there is any chaffing or tenderness. See if there are any early signs of blisters. Check for the beginning stages of corns or any type of fungal infection. If you see any of these, take action immediately as prevention is always preferable to dealing with a more serious foot problem.

Rule 2: Wash your feet regularly

Most of us take a shower and off we go. While a shower is refreshing, it is a sad fact that it does no good to your feet. A proper soak and wash is a must for feet health. Make sure that you wash your feet with warm water and lots of soap. After this, do not forget to dry all areas thoroughly. This will not only keep your feet clean, but will make them healthy too.

Rule 3: Short nails are the best

Long nails look fashionable and attractive, but they can be the breeding ground for infections, especially fungal infections. It is best to keep the nails at a healthy length, preferably short. However, remember, keeping nails too short could also lead to ingrowth of toenails and ingrowth is very painful. Moisturizing the nails and the entire feet keeps them soft, flexible and prevents dry skin.

Rule 4: Show Off

It is best to show your feet. When at home, try to remain bare feet. This helps the feet to breathe. Plus, it also maintains a connection with the Earth. This helps is cultivating better arch support and creates a stable foundation that makes the structures of the feet well-balanced and well-stabilized.

Rule 5: Choose comfortable shoes

Ill fitting and uncomfortable footwear can cause many foot problems, especially if they are worn for long periods of time. Make it a habit to wear comfortable footwear when you are at work.  The next time you go to buy footwear, choose comfort and over fashion. Your feet will always thank you for it.

Start with these five rules; they will become habits in a few weeks. Your feet will always be happy!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Your Feet Reflect Your Health

If “eyes are the windows to the soul,” feet are the mirrors of inside the head and body. If you want to know how healthy you are, take a good look at your feet.

Here is a quote from Jane Andersen, DPM, president of the American Association of Women Podiatrists. "You can detect everything from diabetes to nutritional deficiencies just by examining the feet."
Does this statement surprise you? Read on to know more about how you can detect your good (or bad) health from your feet.

Warning Signals

In the medical field, it is widely accepted that a person’s feet have the ability to send warning signals about the health of the person. Whenever there is a change in your feet—it may be visible in the skin and nails. Sometimes you would know by just how they feel—do not ignore it. It could be a warning, the first red flag of a potentially serious problem. Some of them are as follows
  • Hairless feet and toes means there is s circulation problem; the heart is unable to pump enough blood to go to your feet.
  • Frequent cramps and numbness means you have dehydration and nutritional deficiencies.
  • A wound or sore that does not heal for a long time means you could have diabetes or even skin cancer.
  • Sharp pain in the heel when you stand up or get out of bed means plantar fasciitis, a condition associated with lack of physical exercises and obesity.
  • Yellow toenails mean fungal infection on the underside of the nails. This may be due to inadequate or too much pedicure. Keeping nails painted for months together can also make you nails yellow.

What your Feet Say about You


According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), the feet are a ‘marvel of engineering’. It is a combination of 60 joints, 50 bones and 200 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They have all the nerve ends and they say a lot about you. Here are some interesting foot analysis

  • When you are embarrassed, your big toe blushes with your neck.
  • Wide feet are solid worker’s feet, but long and narrow ones are the delegator’s feet.
  • A gap between the big and the second toe indicates that you are emotional and need time to make decisions.
  • A long big toe shows you are clever and creative. A short one indicates you are a multi-tasker.
  • When the second toe is longer than the big toe, it means you have string leadership qualities.
  • If you are able to wiggle your little toe alone, that is, when you move it, your fourth toes remains straight, it means you are not only impulsive and charming, but also a flirt.

Feet are the pillars of your building – the body. They take all the weight, provide mobility, but are the most neglected part of the body.

If you have pain in your feet that won’t go away, it is time to see a doctor, not just any doctor, but a specialist for the feet, called a podiatrist.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

How to Choose Athletic Shoes

Jogging and running are an integral part of many fitness regimens. It is a great way to lose weight and stay in shape and requires almost no special equipment. The one thing that is required is a good pair of athletic shoes. There are a huge number of well-known brands available and the quality is, by and large, outstanding. With an almost infinite range of colors and designs to choose from, finding a pair that suits your needs and your personality is not hard. What is often not so easy is ensuring that the shoes you buy fit well and meet any special needs you may have.  Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right athletic shoes.
  • Get the right shoes for the activity. Running shoes are for running and they will not give your feet the kind of comfort and support they need for other sports. You should not play tennis wearing soccer shoes or play basketball wearing tennis shoes. If you participate in a variety of sports, it is a good idea to have specific shoes for each one.
  • Go to a specialty sports shoe store. This is where you will find the widest range of athletic shoes to choose from. If you are a member of a club or team, ask other members about the shoes they use and the good and bad points of each one. This will make finding the pair that suits you easier.
  • Keep your specific needs in mind. Have you suffered from any injuries in the past which may require you to wear a specific type of shoe? What about your own experience with shoes in the past. Are there any brands or designs that caused you problems? If so avoid them in the future.
  • As we age, our foot size often changes. The shoes you bought a year or two ago may not be the right size for you now. Have your feet measured whenever you buy athletic shoes. Another point to keep in mind is that manufacturers often change the factories where their shoes are made.  Designs made in one factory may vary marginally from the same design made in another. Do not think that just because you are buying the same design, it will fit you exactly the same.
  • Both your feet are not exactly the same. Always try on both shoes of a pair and if one foot feels uncomfortable, try a different size. Remember that shoes will loosen a little after some use, so look for a firm fit that will be okay if it loosens up with wear and tear.
  • Make sure that there is enough gap between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. The thumb rule is that there should be a finger’s width between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Check to see if the sole of the shoe bends at the ball of the foot, which is where your foot bends. If the bend is not correct, abnormal pressure could be placed on the foot as you move.
  • Make sure that the end of the shoe does not cramp your toes.
  • The heel of your foot should be firmly held in place and not move around or slide up and down in the shoe.
  • Always try on shoes while wearing the socks you wear for the sport you play. Trying on shoes wearing thin nylon socks when you wear thick cotton ones for playing will result in a bad fit.
  • Break into your new shoes gradually. Wear them for extended periods from the first day. Build up the time you wear them gradually so that there is no pressure on your feet as the shoes mold to them.
  • If you have problems finding the right shoe or feel that you need special shoes to cater for specific problems you have, consult a podiatrist who will be able to advise you on the athletic shoes that are right for you.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What are Heel Spurs?

The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and absorbs a great deal of shock and pressure that the foot is subjected to. A heel spur is a pointed bony growth on the heel bone. A spur forms when a bone responds to pressure, rubbing or stress that continues for an extended period of time. The aging process also contributes to the development of spurs. As we age the cartilage that covers the ends of bones wears away and this causes the bones to rub against each other resulting in pain and spurs forming along the edges of the joints. This is a very common cause for the formation of heel spurs. Heel spurs can be located at the back of the heel, under it and even beneath the sole of the foot. They often occur along with Planta Fasciitis, an inflammation of the cord like tissue that runs under the foot from the base of the heel to the base of the toes.

The Symptoms of Heel Spurs

Heel spurs, often along with Plantar Fasciitis, are often diagnosed when there is chronic and constant pain to the areas of the feet described above. In most cases the pain is exacerbated when the patient tries to walk barefoot, especially on tile or wooden floor.  If normal treatments like rest, massage and medication do not help in alleviating the symptoms, x-ray is used to determine if heel spurs exist. Based on an examination, a podiatrist may consider spurs as the first and primary cause of pain and go straight to an investigation of this problem.
Preventing the formation of heel spurs is a complex issue as these are the result of other underlying condition. It is only if the inflammatory conditions that caused the spurs are caught and treated early can the development of the spurs be prevented.

Treatment Options

The treatment options for heel spurs (and Plantar Fasciitis) range from the most simple to surgery. Among the most commonly used are:
  • The localized application of ice to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy, including a variety of stretching exercises can be used to both treat the condition as well as to prevent recurrence in future.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication and injections are often used to provide immediate relief from pain and allow for increased mobility while other treatments are being applied.
  • Doughnut shaped shoe inserts can be used to relieve the pressure on the spurs when standing or walking.
  • Heel lifts can reduce the stress on the Achilles tendon and this in turn may reduce the amount of pain caused by spurs located at the back of the heel.
  • Wearing soft cushioned shoes, such a sports or running shoes, can reduce the pressure on the feet and so cause a reduction in the pain that the heel spurs may cause.
  • If none of these, or other treatments, provide any lasting relief from the pain, surgery is often the last resort and the best way to eliminate the pain permanently.
The Outlook

The outlook for those suffering from heel spurs is generally quite good. In most cases the condition responds well to medication and non-surgical treatments and exercise. Surgical intervention is often not necessary. As with all medical conditions, the earlier heel spurs are diagnosed and treatment begun, the better the chances of success and faster the recovery. If you have persistent symptoms like those described here, it will be wise to consult a podiatrist to begin treatment as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Caring for Flat Feet

Flat feet are among the most common of foot conditions. You know you have flat feet when the arches of your feet are flat so that when you are standing the sole of your foot completely touches the floor. Flat feet may be caused by the arches not developing during childhood, the result of injury or develop due to nothing more than wear and tear and the stresses of age on the feet. In most cases the condition is painless and does not have any significant impact on mobility. If the condition causes no pain or discomfort, treatment is normally not required. However, in some cases flat feet can lead to ankle and knee problems because the flat arches distort the alignment of the legs. There are two basic types of flat feet- flexible and rigid. A flexible flat foot condition is when the foot look normal when there is no weight on it and become flat only when a person is standing up. A rigid flat foot is flat even when no weight is placed on it. Flexible flat feet are the more common.

Living With Flat Feet

While flat feet do not normally need any treatment, there are a few things that can be done to ensure that the problem is not exacerbated and that mobility is not affected.
  • Stretching. Tight calf muscle are a leading cause of flat feet. The tightness of the muscle causes abnormal force to be exerted on the feet which can cause the arch to collapse. The medical term for this condition is Equinus. A program of stretching exercises to loosen the calf muscle can alleviate the condition. No special equipment is needed and the exercises can be done anywhere at any time. A podiatrist will be able to define the specific exercises that will be best as well as advise if Yoga or other exercise regimens will be of help.
  • Strengthening the arch. The foot is made up of numerous muscles. The ones that originate and terminate in the feet are called intrinsic muscles. Most of these muscles are on the bottom of the feet. People with flat feet typically have weak or poorly developed intrinsic muscles  and a program that will strengthen them will provide increased support for the arches and reduce any effects on mobility that the flat feet may cause. While here too a podiatrist will be able to advise on what specific exercise will be best, even simple ones like trying to pick up marbles or other small objects or even pieces of cloth with the foot will help.
  • Shoe inserts. Inserts that support the arches, or orthotics, can relieve the pressure on the arch when weight is placed on them. The supports help to align the bones and reduce the strain that would otherwise be placed on the muscles and ligaments.
  • Walking barefoot. Although this may seem to be in contradiction to the need for orthotics and extra support for the arches, it is not so. Within limits, walking with the feet bare can strengthen the muscles of the  feet and this may both relieve the pressure on the arches as well as improve stability.
If the condition is a very severe one that limits mobility and / or affects the quality of life, then surgery may have to be considered. There are various surgical options available including the use of an implant to support the bones of the arches, tendon transfers or joint fusions. A surgeon will decide on the right procedure after making a thorough examination of the feet.

As already stated, generally speaking flat feet requires not treatment. But if the condition is causing any pain or affecting mobility, a podiatrist should be consulted without delay.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Understanding Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis and contrary to popular belief, it does not only affect the elderly. While it is more common among those over 30, people of any age can suffer from this condition. Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. Generally speaking a high level of uric acid is not harmful. But when the levels become too high, the acid may form hard crystals in the joint. When this happens attacks of severe burning pain, swelling  and stiffness of the joint may occur. While gout can affect any joint, the most common place of it to strike in in the big toe. While both men and women can be affected by gout, it is more common in men.

Causes and Symptoms

There are many things that can cause gout to develop, but the most common are being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and consuming excessive amounts of meat and fish that have a high content of Purines and other chemicals. Certain types of medications, including prolonged use of diuretics can also lead to the development of gout.

The most common symptoms of gout are a sudden attack of pain, swelling, tenderness and redness of the big toe, although the attack may occur in other joints including the foot, ankles and knees. The duration of the attacks can vary from a few days to a few weeks. Once the attack has passed there is no way of knowing when the next one will occur; it could be days, weeks months or even years.

Treatment

Gout is not a condition that can be self-medicated. It is imperative that the patient be examined by a podiatrist. The doctor will do a physical exam and also often take a sample of fluid from the effected joint to determine the uric acid level and the amount of crystal formation. Once the condition has been accurately diagnosed, the doctor may prescribe an injection of corticosteroid or a large daily dose of a combination of medicines. And the medication begins to take effect and the symptoms lessen, the medication dosage will typically also be reduced. In many cases the relief will commence within 24 hours of the start of the treatment.

It is essential that the affected foot should be rested during a gout attack. With a doctors approval, over the counter pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication can be taken. But aspirin is strongly contraindicated. This can increase the uric acid levels in the blood. The use of an icepack to reduce swelling can be done if approved by the doctor.

Living With Gout

Once the attack has been brought under control normal activities can commence. The doctor may prescribe a course of medication to reduce the buildup of uric acid in the blood. In addition to this, proper diet can help in managing the condition. Eating moderately, control weight and eating a healthy mix of various food types will control the uric acid levels. In addition to this a reduced, and strictly monitored consumption of seafood, meat and alcohol is important. Drinking lots of water and other fluids regularly will help to flush the excess uric acid out of the system.

Gout can be a debilitating medical condition that can affect the a patient’s lifestyle. But with proper medication and care on the part of the person suffering from the condition, it can be controlled and the impact on the quality of life minimized.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Foot Care for the Elderly Part 2

Loss of mobility caused by foot related conditions is one of the biggest problems that many older people face. While the effects of age cannot be totally eradicated, with proper care the effect of aging on mobility can be minimized and controlled. Ideally a foot care plan should be developed after a complete check of the condition of the feet and any other health related issues that may affect them. This means that regular foot checkups by a podiatrist are important. Persistent or chronic pain or other foot problems should never be ignored.

Besides wearing well-fitting shoes and regular foot checkups, there are a few other simple precautions that can help to protect aging feet.

Foot Health – Tips for Aging Feet
  • Besides shoes that fit well, support is another important factor. Old well-worn shoes may be comfortable, but that does not mean that they are good for your feet. Do not hesitate to get rid of worn out shoes. Besides fitting properly, your shoes should have a firm sole and a soft upper. If you do a lot of walking or are on your feet for long periods, wear walking shoes or those that will give you any extra support you need.
  • Exercise is important for keeping your feet healthy. Walking is the simplest and best way to do this. If you have any medical conditions that may be affected by walking, consult a medical practitioner before starting a regular walking regimen.
  • Wear thick absorbent cotton socks that allow your feet to breathe.
  • Pantyhose and stockings should not be too tight as this can affect blood circulation. Wearing designs that do not have seams will be more comfortable.
  • If garters are used, these too should not be so tight as to affect circulation.
  • Corns and calluses are common complaints. Because of this it is easy to make the mistake of treating them casually. Cutting them off with a knife or other instrument can make the condition worse as well as opening the door to other foot problems. It is advisable to consult a podiatrist before using an over the counter callus removal product. They are not all the same and using one that is best suited for you is important. There are also conditions where their use may be contraindicated.
  • Feet should be thoroughly washed once a day in lukewarm (not hot) water. A mild soap is usually best. If the soap does not contain moisturizers or if the feet become dry after washing, a moisturizer should be massaged into the skin.
  • Trim your toe nails regularly and cut them straight across. If cutting them yourself is difficult or if some nails are overgrown or too thick to cut, consult a podiatrist. The doctor will be able to either cut these nails or work with you to find a solution you can apply yourself.
  • Inspect your feet carefully every few days for any injury or signs of discoloration or changes in the condition.  Visible changes to the feet are often observable before other symptoms show themselves. If you cannot check your feet yourself, have someone do it for you.
  • Have your feet examined by a podiatrist every 6 months or at least once a year.
Age affects everyone. But, it should not be a reason for pain or a loss of mobility. The earlier a foot condition is diagnosed and treatment begun, the g the chances of success and the faster the recovery.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Foot Care for the Elderly Part 1

As the body ages, it is subjected to continuous wear and tear which increases the probability of developing health issues. This is accepted as a part of growing old. Modern medicine and the understanding of the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle have enabled people to reduce the effects of aging and control the problems associated with it. One part of the body that is often ignored in this process is the feet. Because of the stress they are constantly subjected to, foot pain and problems often start at a relatively young age. Because of this many people presume that foot problems are a natural and almost automatic part of the aging process. This need not be so. With proper foot care, discomfort and loss of mobility can be prevented or at least reduced to a minimum.

Mirrors of health

Our feet are far more sensitive than we realize. Because to the way they cope with the load, stress and often misuse they are subjected to, we tend to take them for granted. But the feet often provides the first indication of medical conditions affecting other parts of the body. For example, the early signs of arthritis, diabetes and circulatory problems often appear first in the feet. Examining your feet regularly to look for any changes becomes increasingly important as you grow older. The common changes in the feet that could be an indication of health issues include numbness, feeling cold, discoloration, dry skin, burning or tingling sensations, dry and brittle nails. If you experience any of these or other sudden changes in the condition of your feet, it is essential that you contact a podiatrist who will be able to tell you if it is a normal age related change or a condition that requires investigation and treatment.

Preventing Foot Problems

Besides the pain and discomfort that they can cause, foot problems can also affect your mobility. And this can have a major impact on the quality of your life. Caring for your feet can prevent this. As we age, our feet tend to become wider and the fatty cushion at the bottom of the feet becomes thinner. Any extra body weight places unwanted stress on the bones and ligaments of the feet which is another common reason for foot problems. Many elderly people accept painful feet as a part of life. They resign themselves to this as just another age related condition they have to live with. There are over 300 different foot conditions. Some of these are genetic, but in many cases they are caused by years of use and often a lack of care of the feet. An inherited condition may show itself only later in life. Whatever the cause of the foot problem, it can be treated irrespective of age. The critical factor is to consult a foot specialist as soon as a foot problem develops. Many seemingly minor conditions such as calluses and dry skin can be treated at home with over the counter medication. But if the treatment does not help within a reasonable period of time, it is always better to consult a podiatrist. The earlier a problem is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of a quick and comprehensive cure.

One big mistake many elderly people make is to presume that their foot size, which remained same for so many years, will continue to do so. As mentioned previously, the broadening of the feet may call for wearing broader shoes to prevent pain and other complications. It is advisable to check your foot size each time you buy shoe and to discard any that have become uncomfortable to wear.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Understanding Bunions

Bunions are one of the most common foot problems. It is a deformity at the base joint of the big toe. Technically referred to as Hallux Valgus, it may not cause any pain or discomfort and many people go through life without their bunions being a cause for concern. But bunions can also lead to inflammation and pain, often to the extent of affecting mobility. Dealing with bunions is easier if you understand what they are.

What exactly is a bunion?

The condition exists when the big toe is angled or tilted towards the adjacent second toe. This causes a bump to form on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe, next the joint that connects it to the foot. Usually, the skin and tissue next to the joint become hard and thick. Such hard thickened tissues and skin become inflamed, painful and swollen. A fluid filled sac may also develop over the joint.

Why do bunions develop?

Bunions develop when the pressure on the foot, caused by the shifting of body weight, falls unevenly on the joint and tendons of the feet. This results in a partial imbalance that makes the big toe unstable to the extent where it bends inwards towards the second toe. When this happens, the joint at the base of the big toe is molded into a hard knob that sticks out from the side of the foot. Experts differ on why this happens but some of the most accepted causes are:

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight, of the wrong shape or with excessively high heels. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that 90% of people with bunions are women. Another statistic is that over half the women in the U.S. suffer from bunions. This shows that narrow, pointed high heeled shoes are a major contributor to the development of bunions.
  • Foot injuries
  • Congenital deformities right from the time of birth
  • Inherited foot types that run in the family
  • Having flat feet
  • Inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis
Because the bunion projects out from the side of the foot, it tends to run against the inner side of a shoe, leading to the skin becoming thick and inflamed.

What happens if you have bunions?

Bunions can develop on one or both feet. Once a bunion forms, there is no way to shrink or remove it except for surgery. Most people with bunions accept them as an inevitable part of modern lifestyles where spending a long time on one’s feet and wearing shoes that may not be the most comfortable are part of the price that has to be paid. Because bunions typically develop very slowly, they are often unnoticed until the projection at the side of the foot is too prominent to be missed or the pain begins. If left untreated bunions can become increasingly painful and in severe cases, cause mobility problems that can impact daily activities.

Symptoms and Problems

Among the many signs of bunions, besides the visible projection from the side of the foot, are:
  • Pain when walking to the extent of making movement difficult
  • Inflammation of the big toe which can often become swollen and infected
  • An increase in the width of the foot requiring broader shoes to be worn
  • The development of arthritis in the big toe
  • Pressure on the second toe causing it to become deformed
  • In very severe cases, the big toe may push the second toe out of position.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

How Your Feet Work

The human foot is one of the complicated parts of the body and understanding its structure and how it works can help in taking care of it. The foot has 26 bones and 33 joints, all of which are in use with every step we take.  These bones and joints are grouped into 3 sets –those in the front, middle and back of the foot.

The Front of the Foot: The front of the foot, also known as the Forefoot, comprises of phalanges or toe bones. These connect to the five long bones (metatarsals) in the mid foot by joints. The joints in the toes do not move very much. It is the forefoot that bears half of your weight when you walk.

The Middle of the Foot: Also known as the Midfoot, this is made up of the five tarsal bones which form the arch of the foot. These bones are connected to the front and back of the foot by muscles and the arch ligament which is known as the Plantar Fascia. Damage to the ligament leads to the common conditions of Plantar Fasciitis or pain in the heel or sole of the foot. The muscles and ligaments function as shock absorbers to reduce the impact of contact with the ground while walking or running.

The Back of the Foot: The back of the foot, which is often called the Hind foot, consists of the heel bone (calcaneus) and the ankle (talus). The two parts are joined by the subtalar joint which allows the foot to move from side to side.

The Movement of the Feet

The bones in the feet are connected to the muscles of the lower leg by tendons. It is these that provide the flexibility allowing us to walk, stand, jump or go up on the toes. The muscles control the movement and positioning of the feet so that they are remain flexible and are able to absorb the impact of walking. They also help to push your body forward when walking by making the arches of the foot stiffer. The heel bone is attached to the calf muscles in the lower leg by the Achilles tendon which is one of the most critical tendons for the movement of the feet. It bears a lot of strain which is why Achilles tendon injuries are very common. The Tibalis Posterior tendon connects the lower leg to the underside of the foot. This provides additional support for the arch of the foot. There are also a number of nerves in the foot. These are what carry the sensation felt by the toes and soles of the foot to the brain.

The feet are far from simple. And they carry our body weight under all kinds of conditions, often for hours on end. Because they are naturally tough it is easy to ignore them. But the same complexity that enables the feet to perform their functions can also be the reasons for foot problems. A minor muscle or tendon problem, if not given proper and timely treatment, can escalate into a more serious medical condition which, in severe cases, can affect mobility.
In general, proper hygiene and wearing the right type and size of shoes will offer protection from most medical conditions. But if a problem does arise or if an injury occurs, ignoring them can be a serious mistake. Consulting a podiatrist in time can often mean the difference between a quick and simple cure and a long and painful one.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Children’s Foot Care Tips

A baby’s first step is a source of great joy to the parents. At the same time, it is also the time to realize that this is the beginning of the use of the feet that must stay healthy for the rest of the child’s life. The feet are the parts of the body that often have the greatest stress placed on them. We tend to ignore them until they start giving trouble. Beginning a child’s foot care regimen at an early age improves the chances of avoiding foot problems in later life.

Here are the basics of foot care for children:
  • Children do not grow at an even rate year after year. Keep an eye on the size of a child’s feet and the fit of the shoes. Replace them as soon as they become tight. Wearing badly fitting shoes is a major cause of deformed feet in children.
  • Teach children to walk with their toes straight in front of them. Some children have a tendency to walk with their toes pointing either in or out. This weakens the feet and can also affect the alignment of the whole body.
  • Ensure that the feet are washed every day with warm water and that all the soap is rinsed from the skin.
  • Make sure that children dry their feet completely, especially after swimming of walking on wet surfaces.
  • Cut the toe nail in a straight line. Do not curve the edges along the contours of the toe. This can lead to in grown toenails and other problems.
  • Do not ignore corns and/or calluses. They could be the sign of a more serious foot condition. At the least, they could indicate that a badly fitting shoe is being worn.
  • Ensure that the shoes being worn are clean both outside and inside
  • Teach children about the dangers of fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot. Explain how it is caused and the discomfort that result. If an infection does occur, do not try home remedies. In the case of children, it is safer to consult a Podiatrist to eliminate the dangers of the infection spreading or other complications arising.
  • Knock knees, bow legs, pigeon toes and other deformities of the legs and feet are often caused by foot problems. Consult a medical professional as soon as a condition is noticed. A complete cure is often possible if the condition is diagnosed early and treatment begun.
  • Older children are often driven by peer pressure to wear shoes that do not suit their feet. It can be difficult to make children understand that comfort and foot health are more important considerations than style.
Children and parents both accept bruises, cuts, scratches aches and pains are part of the growing process. While this is true, that does not mean they should be ignored, especially if the feet are affected. Tired and aching feet are often taken as part of life. This is not correct. It is a sign of something being wrong, especially in the case of children.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Numb Toes – Causes and Prevention

There are two reasons for numbness in the toes – low blood circulation or nerve damage/medical conditions affecting other parts of the body. Nerve damage is a serious concern that requires treatment by a Podiatrist. But before considering nerve problems, the question of reduced blood flow in the toes must be ruled out. One of the main causes of low blood flow is wearing the wrong shoes.

Why Shoes Affect Circulation

If your toes become numb after you have walked some distance, the chances are that it is because of your shoes. Shoes that are too tight or too short or narrow at the tip may restrict the blood flow. A shoe may feel comfortable but still puts pressure on some parts of the feet reducing the flow of blood. Similarly, a shoe that is slightly shorter or narrower may not cause any tangible discomfort. But here too, the pressure applied on some parts of the foot can affect the blood supply to the toes. Even shoes that are loose can cause problems. Your feet could be sliding forward with each step you take and the movement inside the shoe with fluctuating pressure on the feet can affect the flow of blood to the toes.

Preventing Numb Toes

Choosing the shoe of right size and shape, and lacing it correctly can often eliminate the problem of numb toes.
  • Your feet swell after you walk some distance. The swelling can even increase the size of your feet by one shoe size. The shoes you wear for walking should be looser than your formal shoes. As long as it is not too loose and it does not allow your feet to slide in the shoe, try wearing a walking shoe that is one size larger than what you normally wear. Also, make sure that your walking shoes are wide at the toe and there is room for you to wiggle your toes around in the shoe. This means that there is enough space for smooth blood supply.
  • The way you lace your shoes can also affect the blood supply and lead to numbness of the toes. Ensure that the laces at the toe end are not too tight. Try out various lacing techniques to find the one that gives you the maximum support. If you wear ankle high walking shoes they should be tight around the ankle to provide you with the support you need; and to keep the rear of the foot planted in the heel of the shoe so as to prevent the foot from sliding forward. If getting the right tension at the top and bottom is difficult, you could try using two laces on each shoe – one for the top and one for the toe end. They can be of differing tightness to give you the support and comfort you need.
  • Your stride can be causing your toes to go numb. Some people walk with the ties curled downwards. Others walk with their toes in an upward position. Both of these restrict the natural flattening of the feet in the course of the stride. Both these positions increase the pressure and trauma to the toes and can lead to numbness. Pay attention to the position of your toes as you walk and try to keep them in a relaxed position. The stride should begin with the heel hitting the ground, the foot rolling forward and then the toes pushing the foot up for the next step.
Medical Conditions that Cause Numb Toes

If your toes are numb all the time or you are sure that it is not your shoes or ways of walking that is causing the numbness, consult a podiatrist. There are many medical conditions that can cause numbness of the toes. You can hope for quick cures when the medical ailments are detected earlier.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Foot Care for Walkers

Walking is a low impact, stress free form of exercise that is suitable for all ages and has health benefits for all parts of the body. People walk for different reasons – some purely for the exercise, others because their work demands it and some walk as a form or relaxation. But, for all of us our feet take the load!

Pressure on Feet

Your feet carry the full weight of your body. Each step you take pressurizes your feet. Though they are made f strong bones and tissues, it does not mean that we can ignore foot care. It’s easy for take care of the rest of the body and ignore the feet. It is only when foot problems arise that we realize how much we depend on them and how problems with the feet can affect the quality of life. Here are a few simple tips to keep your feet healthy and allow you to walk in comfort.

Shoes

Everyone knows how uncomfortable a badly fitting pair of shoes can be. What many do not realize is that wearing improper shoes will damage the feet to a greater extent. There’s nothing wrong in spending a lot of money on the latest branded athletic shoes – they are good. There is no single ideal type of walking shoe. It varies according to the type and shape of the feet and how high the arches are. The best way to buy walking shoes is to spend time trying on as many shoes as possible before shortlisting the most comfortable ones. Ensure that you walk wearing them to check how easy you feel. This should be done late in the day when the feet tend to expand to their largest. The same kind of socks that are worn for walking should be put on when trying the new shoes. Out of the shortlisted ones, choose those that are snug at the heel but have enough room in front to wiggle the toes. Remember that your feet are not of exactly the same size, so try on both shoes before buying a pair. If you suffer from bunions, corns, hammertoes or other foot problems, consult a podiatrist before buying shoes.

Foot Care
  • Wash your feet thoroughly every day and ensure that they are properly dried.
  • Check your feet daily for any signs of calluses, blisters or soreness. If you do find anything, apply petroleum jelly to the affected area and also dust some talcum powder on the feet before putting on socks. If the condition does not improve, consult a podiatrist.
  • Apply topical anti-fungal cream at the first sign of athlete’s foot or other such fungal infection. Itching and redness between the toes are common signs of this.
  • Wear thick absorbent socks when walking and change them after each use.
  • Cut your toenails regularly and shape them straight across the front of the toe.

When in doubt about a foot problem, however minor it may seem, consult a podiatrist. The longer you delay treatment, the longer the recovery and the longer you may be left without the pleasure and exercise that comes from walking.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Your Food & Your Feet

What you eat constitutes what you are. Right type of foods goes a long way in keeping you healthy. Surprisingly, your feet also demand the right intake to stay fit and fine.

Inflammation: Many foods can cause muscle and tissue inflammation in various parts of the body. In the feet, it often appears in the form of plantar fasciitis. This is a severe burning pain that is felt along the soles of the feet. It is caused by the thick band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot becoming inflamed. Your diet could be one of the major reasons for this ailment. Refined grains, junk foods, transfats in many baked foods, saturated fats found in red meats, the omega-6 fats present in many vegetable oils are some examples. Over consumption of sweets can increase blood sugar levels thus increasing the possibility of pain and inflammation. In addition, severe allergies to even common and otherwise healthy foods like wheat can trigger symptoms of pain and inflammation.

Prevention: There is no guarantee that inflammation of the feet, or other parts of the body will not occur. But controlling the intake of these foods can help to reduce the likelihood of it happening. In addition, an increase in the amount omega-3 fats can be effective. Fatty fish like salmon and fish oil supplements are excellent sources of omega-3. In addition to correcting the omega-3 and omega-6 imbalance, a general diet makeover can also help to reduce the problem of foot inflammation.  The basis of a balanced diet should be minimal intake of sugar and refined grains; and an increased intake of green vegetables.

Diabetes and Peripheral Artery Disease: Diabetes and peripheral artery disease can affect all parts of the body, but the feet are among the most vulnerable. Both these conditions affect the flow of the blood to the feet resulting in slow healing of injuries. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats and sodium can help in reducing the risk of peripheral artery disease. Again, an increased intake of omega-3 can also help to lower the risk levels. In the case of diabetes, the NIH recommends a diet rich in whole grains, beans, lean meats, vegetables and fruits with a limited amount of fats and sweets.

Though diet control can prevent inflamed and /or painful feet, the best thing to do is to go to a podiatrist.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Basics of Foot Hygiene

Most people (this includes both men and women) take good care of their hands. This is because the hands are essential of almost every action that is taken and also because they are always on display, to be seen by others. Dirty, calloused, damaged or otherwise unattractive hands are not things that a person can be proud of. But what about the feet? They function in a way similar to the hands, but are subject to far more stress and pressure. And because they are rarely seen boy other, they are often neglected. Remember foot hygiene is not just so that they look nice. It is a matter of keeping them healthy so that they are free from diseases and infections.

Ways to Clean Feet
  • Use a foot file or pumice stone to rub off all the dry, chapped and hard skin of the feet.
  • Then soak the feet in warm water and scrub them again. Do not stop the soaking.
  • Wash the feet from the ankles down to the toenails.
  • Use a nail brush (or even an old toothbrush) to scrub on, around and under the edge of the toenails.
  • Do all this slowly so that your feet have time to soak. It’s a nice relaxing feeling so why hurry?
  • When you have done with the soaking, take a soft towel and gently pat the feet dry. Do not rub them and do not pat them excessively. The feet should remain a little moist so they do not start to chap again.
  • The only areas that should be dried completely are the spaces between the toes. Leaving these places damp could lead to fungus infections.
  • Now you are ready to massage your feet. If you don’t have foot lotion, don’t worry. Yogurt, warm milk, lemon juice or olive oil will do just fine. Massage your feet slowly and gently, being sure not to leave out any areas, except the spaces between they toes which must remain dry. Take your time and enjoy it.
  • If you have massaged your feet with lotion or olive oil, leave it on - it’s good for the skin. But if you have used yogurt or anything else, rinse it off when the massage is over.
  • Now is the time to apply lotion. It doesn’t matter if its foot or hand lotion. Read the bottle to see what the lotion does. When it comes to lotions, the most expensive one are not always the best. If trying a new lotion rub a little on your wrist and wait for a day to see if there is any adverse reaction. Rub the lotion all over the feet, including the back of the feet, the soles, the heels and the ankles.
  • Take a brush and clean under the toenails again. Then use a toenail clipper to trim the nails. Do not cut the nails so short that it is painful. Make sure that the nails are all cut to the same length and shape with no rough edges that could catch and cause the nail to tear. Do not cut the nails in a curve. Keeping the edges in a straight line is the best.
That’s it – your feet are now clean and nice. You do not have to do this every day. But a regular cleaning, soaking, massaging and nail trimming regimen will ensure that you have feet that you can be proud of – whether or not anyone else sees them.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

When Should You See a Podiatrist - Part 2

  • Pain that lasts for over 24 hours. A major foot pain that lasts for over 24 hours is usually a sign of a serious medical condition. This is especially true for those who have recently had a surgical procedure performed on or near the feet. Among the many cause of this kind of lasting pain are Deep Vein Thrombosis, (DVT), Compartment Syndrome which is an increase in pressure in a part (or compartment) of a foot, infection or even a dressing that is too tight. Treating the pain is not the major issue. Finding out what is causing it is.
  • Foot pain when the legs are elevated. Pain in the feet when the legs are elevated; this could be a sign of decreased blood flow or Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). This is a type of atherosclerosis which happens arteries become clogged with plaque that cause the blood flow to the limbs – often the legs and feet – to become restricted. If untreated PAD can lead to gangrene or strokes.
  • A suddenly developing deformity.Charcot arthropathy refers to a condition often found in diabetes patients. The symptoms include pain, redness and a hot swollen feeling in the foot. This condition can cause the bones to break or slip out of place. If not diagnosed in time and treatment delivered promptly, the bones may heal in the wrong position, causing the deformity.
  • A mole that changes shape. A mole on the foot that has an odd shape or that keeps changing its shape or size, bleeds often or keeps changing it color should be shown to a doctor immediately. Any of these symptoms could be there early sings of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. The mole should be shown to a foot doctor who will then refer you to a dermatologist of other specialist as required.
  • One flat foot. If the arch of one foot becomes less curved that the other and appears to be like a flat foot, it could be a sign of tendon damage or even a ruptured tendon. Besides the needs to treat the tendon itself, another issue is that of the effect that a damaged tendon can have on the bones of the foot. A tendon that is not functioning as it could cause the bones to get out of alignment. This in turn can lead to the development of arthritis in the joints. The earlier such conditions are treated, the lesser the chances of other related problems developing.
  • A lump in the foot.A lump or bump on the foot that is painful and continues to grow should be shown to a podiatrist as the earliest. It could be a cyst that will need to be removed. It could also be something more serious like tumor that will need to be removed. Tumors of the feet are rare but the do occur.
Because of the load they carry and the stress and strain that is placed on them, the feet are subject to considerable wear and tear over a lifetime. Add to this the possibilities of injury, exercise related problems and conditions in other parts of the body that affect the foot. If any of the conditions described above occur or there is any other condition of the foot that causes concern, go to a foot specialist immediately. Early treatment is the key to preventing a small problem from becoming a big one

Thursday, 27 March 2014

When Should You See a Podiatrist - Part 1

Foot injuries are common and everyone suffers from the occasional bout of foot and ankle pain, soreness and sprains. In most cases time, rest, icing or warm foot baths and a pair of new shoes will take care of the problems. But once in a while the conditions might lead you to see a podiatrist. Many people think that it is silly to go to a specialist for a seemingly minor problem. But a minor issue could be the first stage of a problem. And the earlier it is diagnosed and treatment begun, the faster the recovery. Also there are medical conditions that affect the other parts of the body first show up in the feet. Here are a few of the many conditions which should make you think seriously about consulting a podiatrist.
  • A wound or sore that will not go away. Any wound or sore that does not begin to show signs of healing quickly is a cause for concern. This is especially true if you are suffering from diabetes because this condition will slow down the healing process. A wound or sore that remains open for a long time increases your chances of getting a skin or even a bone infection – Osteomyelitis. When this happens the infection can be carried by the blood to other parts of the body, resulting in a variety of serious medical conditions. These are conditions that could incapacitate you for an extended period of time.
  • A discolored foot. Your feet are supposed to be the same color. If you find that one foot has changed its color, there could be a problem. If the foot is pale or unusually white in color, it could be a sign of low blood circulation. Blue or purple could be a sign of a vein problem. And redness may be a sign of gout (a common and usually very painful form of arthritis) or an infection. The earlier the foot is examined by a specialist the better.
  • Numb feet. Numbness and/or burning or a tingling sensation could be an indication of neuropathy which is a condition resulting in decreased sensation in the feet. This can be a symptom of diabetes. Neuropathy is a condition that increases the chances of developing ulcers of the feet.
  • Activity related pain. If you suffer from repeated pain that increases in severity after any kind of activity that puts stress on the feet, it could be a sign of a stress fracture. This happens when the foot is overused and the muscles become so fatigued or overstressed that they can no longer absorb the stress and shock caused by the activity. Because the muscles cannot absorb the stress it is transferred to the nearby bone or bones which are not meant to handle this pressure. The result is a small fracture that will normally result in a degree of pain that increases as the stress on the bone grows. If not detected and treated early, the condition can worsen resulting in problems with the movement of the foot and overall mobility.
Pain and/or swelling in one foot. Having pain and/or swelling in one foot while the other has no such problems are not normal. This could be a sign of an infection of the foot, tendon damage, tendonitis or a broken bone. This is a condition that calls for a visit to the podiatrist.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

After a Foot Tattoo

It seems that everyone is getting tattoos these days. And while there is literally no part of the body that someone, somewhere has not had tattooed, the feet were often overlooked. Until now, that is. Feet tattoos are becoming very popular and the two main reasons for this are the subtlety of the location and the fact that a tattoo can highlight the beauty of this often ignored part of the body. There are certain standard care procedures and precautions to be taken after getting a tattoo, and the same do, by and large, apply to the feet as well. However, there are few additional considerations in the case of foot tattoos that it would not be wise to ignore, if you are planning on tattooed feet.
  • If you are planning on getting both feet tattooed, do them one at a time. Walking after a tattoo can be difficult for a day or two and having a ‘good foot’ to take the extra strain will speed up the recovery process. Only if the tattoos are very tiny should both feet be tattooed at the same time.
  • Find out from the person who will be doing the tattoo about the restrictions and how long they have to be observed. Then make your schedule accordingly, so you do not have to walk around during the recovery period. Ensure that you have loose flip flops to wear while staying home.
  • Have a friend take you for the tattoo. It’s not a matter of needing moral support- although for some folks that can be a great help. The friend will be required to drive you home incase the new tattoo makes driving difficult.
  • Swelling of the freshly tattooed area is common. As soon as you get home elevate the affected foot and dab some ice cubes as often as possible. This will reduce the pain and swelling too.
  • You may have to go back to work before the healing process is complete. If you have a desk job, sitting down all day, your feet might swell up. Try to find a way of occasionally elevating your foot –at least 5 minutes in an hour should help with the swelling. If your job requires a lot of walking around, that too can lead to swelling and pain. In this case also, sitting down and elevating your foot will help.
  • Funny as it may sound, drinking a lot of fluids will help reduce the water retention that exacerbates the swelling of the feet. Also try to reduce your sodium intake until the swelling and pain are completely gone.
  • Do not wear shoes that apply pressure over the new tattoo. This will increase the irritation and the pain.
  • Don’t expect a linear reduction of the pain, swelling and discomfort. There will be times when the feet feel fine and other when there are swollen and painful. This is normal and the discomfort will fade away naturally in a few days.
With normal precautions recovering from a foot tattoo should not be a long or difficult process. However, if the pain and swelling appear to be abnormal consult a podiatrist to check is everything is okay. Ignoring persistent problems after getting a foot tattoo can lead to a variety of complications that could affect the overall health. A foot doctor will be able to diagnose and treat any complications and prevent the situation from getting worse. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dealing with Cracked Heels

Walking around barefoot or wearing flip-flops is one of the nicest and most laidback things about summer. The problem with this is that over exposure to air can cause the skin of the feet to dry out and become damaged and callused. On top of this, the constant pounding and pressure on the feet from walking makes the problem worse and can lead to the skin at the heels cracking and forming what are known as Heel Fissures. That these cracks look dirty and ugly is bad enough. The fact that this can be very painful and cause bleeding and infections to happen is even worse. There are things that can be done to prevent cracked heels from developing and if they do occur, to treat the condition at home.

Preventing Cracked Heels

The best way to prevent cracked heels is to keep your feet covered so that the skin does not dry out. This means wearing shoes even in summer. There are light ventilated shoes made for the hot weather that are not at all uncomfortable to wear. Keep in mind that keeping the skin from drying out does not mean allowing the feet to become and remain damp – that will lead to fungal infection. Drink lots of water to hydrate the body inside and out. Use a pumice stone a couple of times a week to scrub the dead skin from your feet and apply moisturizer on the feet every day. This simple routine should prevent cracked heels from developing.

Healing Cracked Heels

To start the healing process, the first thing to do is to remove the dry and dead skin from the feet. Before going to bed at night soak your feet in warm (not hot) water for about 20 minutes. Pat the feet dry and scrub the soles and the heels gently with a pumice stone or foot file. Be careful not to irritate or inflame the cracked parts of heel or the rest of the foot. As the dead skin is sloughed off, smoother softer skin underneath will be revealed. Rinse off the feet in warm water and pat them completely dry again. Once the skin is dry, apply a liberal portion of foot cream, special cracked heel cream, body butter or moisturizer to the feet and rub the topical application into the skin gently. Wear socks to cover the feet and keep the cream from staining the bed sheets. The improvement in the condition will be noticeable by the next morning. Continue with the treatment regimen until the cracked heels have completely disappeared.

If you have an exercise routine that puts a lot of pressure on the feet, switch to something else to relieve the pressure until the cracked heel problem is taken care of.

If you spend a lot of time at the beach, there is a natural way to remove the dead skin. Walk barefoot in the wet sand which will act like a gentle abrasive and rub off the dead skin from the feet each time a foot sinks into the thick wet sand.

For Extreme Cases

If the home treatments for cracked heels do not produce results the cause is usually because the feet are too dry or the cracks are too deep to be cured in this manner. The only thing to do in such cases is to visit a specialist foot doctor. The podiatrist will examine the feet to determine what is causing the problem and then provide treatment to cure the condition. He or she will also advise you of a foot care routine which will prevent the condition from recurring.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

How to Get Rid Of Foot Fungus

Foot fungus, in its various forms, is among the most common of foot conditions. Unfortunately, because of the amount of misinformation floating around about the condition and how to cure it, people often suffer more than they have to. In some cases, these home remedies can actually make the infection worse. Follow these tested tips to get rid of foot fungus. If the condition persists, then it would be better to consult a podiatrist for specialized treatment.
  • Wear the right kind of shoes. Poorly ventilated and damp parts of the body invite the growth of fungus. Wearing light shoes that allow the feet to breathe will help to prevent the feet becoming moist. Avoid wearing the same shoes for 2 days in a row – give shoes time to air out and dry. If your feet sweat a lot, change your socks twice a day (or more if required) to keep them dry. Socks made of natural fiber like cotton wool are the best.
  • A weak immune system increases the risk of getting athlete’s foot and other fungal infection. Build up your immune system.
  • Because they are so far from the heart the feet have comparatively lower levels of blood flow. This makes it harder for the body to fight fungus and other infections. Exercise like walking will help to increase the flow and improve the resistance to these opportunistic infections. Remember to wear shoes that allow the feet to breathe and stay dry.
  • Tea tree oil can help. A topical application of tea tree oil has been proven to fight fungal infection as well as many prescription medications. A 10% solution is normally enough but as high as 25% to 50% can be used for more severe cases. A 100% application is known to help in clearing up toenail fungus. Tea tree oil is in no way similar with beverage of the same name and should never be taken internally.
  • Use Garlic. The antifungal compound ajoene is present in garlic and tests have found it to be very effective in fighting a number of different types of fungal infections. In one study, using a 1% solution of ajoene over a period of 2 months was found to provide a 100% cure rate for athlete’s foot (as compared to a 94% cure rate for a well-known fungal medication). As ajoene solutions are not sold commercially, a home made one can be prepared by finely crushing about 6 garlic cloves, adding them to a foot bath and soaking the feet for 30 minutes. An alternative would be to mix minced garlic with olive oil to make a paste and rub it on the infected area with a piece of cotton.
  • If you prefer to use over the counter medications there are many that contain butenafine, clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine and tolnaftate which are very effective in fighting these infections.
  • For severe infections prescription medications may be required. These include topical medications that contain clotrimazole and miconazole and oral medications including itraconazole, fluconazole and terbinafine
Once the infection has gone, care must be taken to prevent a recurrence. Do not share shoes, towels etc. with other people. Avoid using bath mats that other have stepped on. Do not walk barefoot in public places like locker rooms and swimming pools – wear flip flops instead.

Remember that although Athlete’s Foot and other fungal infections are very common and can, in most cases, be treated and cured at home, this is not always the case. If the condition persists, increase in severity or if the remedies being tried cause unwanted side effects, a podiatrist should be consulted without delay.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Give Yourself a Perfect Pedicure

Pedicures are often seen as a purely cosmetic procedure. But there is more to the pedicure than this. Pedicures help to keep the feet clean and healthy, besides looking nice. A busy lifestyle and the cost of a professional pedicure can often cause people to ignore the need for regular pedicures. The simple steps that follow will allow you to give yourself a quick and economical pedicure at home whenever it is convenient.
  • Clean your feet regularly. This does not mean just washing your feet when you bathe. Use a special nail brush to clean around and under the toenails to remove stubborn grime and dirt that has accumulated.
  • Remove dead and dry skin by soaking the feet in warm (not hot) water for about 5 minutes and then using a pumice stone or foot file to scrub away the skin from the soles of the feet. Follow this with an application of hydrating cream or lotion to keep the skin soft.
  • Smooth over the calluses. Calluses are the body’s way of protecting the feet by forming a protective layer of skin over those parts that are under pressure like the heels and the balls of the feet. A certain amount of callusing should be retained to ensure that the protection of your feet need is retained. But excessive callusing and dry and cracked skin should be removed to prevent a painful callus build up. The method used to smoothen out calluses will depend on how severe the problem is. For very thick calluses and hard dry cracked skin a heavy duty foot smoother or suitable file can be used. Lighter calluses and dry but not cracked skin can usually be removed by using a regular foot file or pumice stone. These lighter files and pumice stones can also be used to provide the final finish after a heavier tool has been used to remove thicker calluses. Once the calluses have been smoothened, regular scrubbing will prevent a recurring build of excess hard and dry skin. Keep in mind that the objective is to keep the calluses smooth, not to remove them completely.
  • Use a deep penetrating cream or lotion to moisturize the skin of the feet to keep it soft and supple. Pay special attention to the soles of the feet including the heels and the balls of the foot. Apply the cream to the cuticles also to keep them soft and easy to shape.
  • To control excess cuticle build up, soak the toes in warm water for a few minutes and use a towel or washcloth to push them back towards the base of the toenails. If this does not work, a special cuticle pusher can be used. If there is an excessive amount of cuticle build up a cuticle nipper can be used to trim them. Be careful only to trim the dead cuticle area and not the live skin that is around the nails.
  • The shape of the toenails is important not just because of appearance but also to prevent them from getting damaged. The best way to cut the nails is trim them in a straight line  so that they are even at the end of the toes. Long nails can hit against the front of the shoes and cause pain and soreness. Nails kept too short can result in painful ingrown toenails that may require a visit to a doctor. Use a toenail clipper or special toenail scissors for the job. Once the nails have been clipped smoothen the edges with a nail file to prevent them snagging on socks or stockings.
Follow these simple steps regularly to keep your feet clean, smooth and healthy.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Toenail Care

Our feet are subject to a lot of use and often, abuse. This in turn leads to a number of foot problems. Those who have suffered from these problems in the past quickly learn the importance of proper foot care and try to follow a regular care regimen. Even then, there is one area where people often make mistakes and that is in caring for the toenails. Keeping the toenails trimmed and shaped correctly can help to prevent many unwanted foot conditions.

The Length: While toenail length is often dictated by style and fashion, the best length for them is just even with the tip of the toes. Any longer and there is a risk of them hitting against the front of the shoe. Usually this contact is very slight and cannot be felt. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet the repeated pressure and impact can become a source of pain and soreness.  If this situation is allowed to persist, the results can be swelling of the toes and even a toenail coming off. The other extreme of cutting the nails too short is also not a good idea. If the nails are cut too close to the end of the toes there is a risk of the soft tissue under the nail and at the tip of the toe getting cut. This is not only painful; the cuts can also lead to infections and even ingrown toenails.

The Shape: There are many ways in which fingernails can be shaped. It often happens that people try to duplicate the fingernail shape with the toes as well. This may be a mistake. The best way to cut the toenails is straight across with no curve. While the finger nails can be cut along the curve of the finger tip, doing so with the toes nails can lead to problems. As the toenails grow the rounded corners that follow the shape of the tip of the toes can cut into the soft skin that is around the edge of the nail. This is not only painful; the cut also opens the door to all kinds of infections. In addition, the skin could start to grow over the edge of the nail leading to an ingrown toenail.

The Edge: Smoothening off the edges of the toenails may seem like a waste of time, but there are good reasons why it is worth the effort. First of all, neat edges look good. Next, without rough and jagged edges the chances of the nails getting snagged on sock or pantyhose is reduced. This will help to prevent the nails being yanked and possibly injured as the garments are removed and also to protect the garments themselves from damage.

The Cuticles: The cuticles play an important role in stabilizing and anchoring the nails to the toes. They also form a seal that prevents bacteria from getting into the skin. Overgrown cuticles must be dealt with carefully to prevent injuries and damage to the cuticle area. In most cases the toes can be soaked to soften the cuticles which can then be gently pushed back. Once this is done, they can be wiped off with a towel or a clean piece of cloth. If this does not work, a cuticle pusher can be used to push them back. A cuticle nipper can then be used to trim off the excess. Rubbing a suitable lotion or oil into the cuticles will keep them soft, healthy and hydrated to make caring for them easier.

If toenail problems do arise, it is best to consult a podiatrist to have the conditions treated in the right way.