This page is a printable version of: https://www.iow.nhs.uk/news/Are-your-feet-getting-the-love-they-need.htm
Date: 20 September 2021
This month is National Walking Month. Walking is a fantastic way to keep active and maintain a healthy heart and it's fun, flexible and free. But it can take its toll on your feet!
Our feet are one of the hardest working parts of our body and the first part to age but we don’t always look after our feet in the same way we do other parts of our body.
When was the last time you gave your feet some TLC? Our Consultant Podiatrist, Stephanie Stanley has been speaking to us about why good foot care is so important and not just during the summer months but all year round.
Our feet keep us mobile and allow us to do all the activities in life that we enjoy. Healthy feet enable us to exercise which helps us to keep our weight down and keep any medical conditions in control.
If you start to get problems with your feet it can lead to infection which can be unpleasant and very serious for some people with other conditions. Problems with your feet can limit your choice of footwear and affect your ability to do activities that you enjoy such as walking or swimming. Not being able to do what we enjoy for a period of time can also affect our mental health.
During the months when your feet can become dry you can start to get split heels which can be painful and become infected. Ingrowing toenails are common for people who do a lot of sport or have cut their toenails improperly or there is a piece of nail that has been left behind. They can be incredibly painful and can result in surgery and/or a course of antibiotics. Fungal infections are common and can cause the skin to split and become infected. Biomechanical conditions such as plantar fasciitis, which causes pain on the bottom of the foot, can be really debilitating. At this time of the year we are seeing problems with chill blains where the weather is changing from cold to warm.
Check your feet every day and look for any new signs of redness, swelling, weeping or bleeding. If there is a problem, instant first aid is important, so washing your feet in warm, salty water, dry them and put a clean, dry plaster or dressing on the affected area. Check it at least once or twice a day to make sure it’s OK. If the area is not improving after 24/48 hours you will need to get it checked. For fungal infections any over the counter treatments are good but mention to the pharmacist any other medication you are taking. Ingrowing toenails will need specialist treatment by the Podiatry team via your GP.
Cut nails correctly. It’s best to use nail nippers rather than scissors. Cut nails straight across and not too low at the edge or sides. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. It’s better to cut nails after a bath or shower when they are much softer.
Don’t forget to moisturise. After washing feet, dry thoroughly and apply a good foot cream all over the foot. Avoid between the toes as this can cause the skin to become overly macerated, causing it to break down. The best foot creams contain urea.
Don’t assume flat is best. People are more aware now of the health problems associated with wearing high heeled shoes frequently, but completely flat slip-on styles, such as a ballerina pump, are not ideal for everyday wear as they offer very little shock absorption or support. Slip-on styles also cause the toes to claw in order to hold the foot in place.
Alternate shoes and keep them clean inside. Feet naturally sweat and wearing the same pair every day doesn’t give them a chance to dry out and they can then be a breeding ground for bacteria. To help keep your shoes clean and prevent them from becoming smelly, clean inside the shoe with some surgical spirit on a cotton wool pad to reduce the bacteria.
Check your feet regularly. Common symptoms to look out for are yellow, brittle and discoloured nails - which can be a sign of a nail infection, flaky skin that may be dry or red or itchy – which can be a symptom of athlete’s foot, and any changes to the structure of the foot such as swelling to the joint around the ball of the foot.
Foot pain is not normal. If you or a family member experience pain then speak to your GP in the first instance.