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.