Your feet carry you through your day, squished into pointy-toed heels, sweating in hot, heavy work boots or walking around on flat, worn-out soles. Most people take their feet for granted until pain or problems, such as blisters or calluses, develop.
But it’s important to be kind to your feet and take care of them before problems arise and to treat existing problems before they limit your ability to do your everyday activities.
Your feet age, the skin gets dry, wet, rubbed and irritated.
Joint pain from arthritis can become overwhelming and if you have a long-term condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, they are at a higher risk of infections and injury, which could lead to serious consequences for your health.
There are good reasons for you to take care of your feet and practise good foot hygiene. They include:
If your feet hurt or if they are causing knee or back pain, you are less likely to exercise and stay active.
You know it’s important for your health, but you can’t put yourself through additional pain and discomfort.
Quality of life.
With persistent foot pain or irritations, it’s difficult to keep doing the things you enjoy, which in turn can affect your mental health.
Good foot care, either by yourself or a professional, will help with your independence and mobility.
Don’t do the following:
Use over-the-counter medications to treat corns and warts.
Ever go barefoot, even indoors. Consider buying a pair of well-fitting shoes that are just for indoors.
Put hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.
Sit or cross your legs for long periods of time.
Smoke. Smoking decreases circulation and healing, and significantly increases the risks of amputation.
Do the following:
Wear well-fitting shoes. They should be supportive, have low heels (less than five centimetres high) and should not rub or pinch. With shoes or slippers that are too big or don’t fit well, the likelihood of a fall is much higher. Shop at a store with knowledgeable staff who can professionally fit your shoes.
Buy shoes in the late afternoon (since your feet swell slightly by then).
Wear socks at night if your feet get cold.
Elevate your feet when you are sitting.
Wiggle your toes and move your ankles around for a few minutes several times a day to improve blood flow in your feet and legs.
Wash your feet every day, making sure that you dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
Exercise regularly to improve circulation.
Inspect your feet daily and, in particular, feel for skin temperature differences between your feet.
Wearing clean socks or stockings every day will help keep feet dry and reduce the risks of fungal or bacterial infections.
Apply moisturizing cream every day, avoiding the area between the toes, which may become too moist and split; but avoiding talcum or baby powder, as this can clog the skin and cause friction between the toes.
If all of this seems rather daunting, there are lots of people you can ask for help. Your family doctor, foot care nurses and, of course, podiatrists will all be happy to point you in the right direction and give you a helping hand on your way to good foot care