How hard do your feet have to work for you and do you ever think about how you can make life a little easier for them? If we neglect them, there is a lot that can go wrong with our feet.
Blisters on your feet
These are small pockets of fluid that form. While the fluid is usually clear, it can be red if the blister is filled with blood or an ugly yellowish/green if filled with pus and indicative of an infection. Blisters can be caused by a number of things including rubbing or friction on the foot especially when shoes are too large or too new; burning or freezing; chemical exposure; an allergic reaction; pinched skin leading to blood blisters; perspiration; or fungal infections such as athletes foot or nail fungus. First aid for blisters should not be necessary unless the blister breaks or the raw skin has been damaged. If you see symptoms of infection such as pus, redness, increasing increasing pain or warm skin, then you should seek medical attention.
Those with diabetes should examine their feet very regularly and carefully for blisters.
This is a very stubborn, very itchy and very common fungal infection
of the skin on the feet, mostly occurring in males. Known as tinea pedis, it just loves dark, moist and warm conditions such as inside your shoe especially if you have sweaty feet in tight socks! The tiny fungi grow and multiply on the human skin and, if left untreated, the condition will continue to get worse, leading to blisters and cracks that may go on to become infected. It can even spread to the nails. Neglecting to dry your feet properly after swimming, exercising or washing can all help to make matters worse. You can find out more here.
These can be caused by negligent foot care as well as dryness while vitamin, zinc and omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies can also contribute. The medical term for these cracks
is “heel fissures” where little cuts appear in the epidermis area of the heel but sometimes extend deep into the dermis itself, becoming very painful. All that walking and pressure on the heels and feet pads cause the feet to expand sideways. If you spend hours every day on your feet, if you are overweight or if with aging your sebum production has diminished (leading to dryness) you stand a greater risk of cracked heels.
This fungal infection in the nails
may first appear as white or yellow spots on the nail. The fungus can cause the nails to thicken and discolor and it is important to treat the condition before it becomes too painful and causes permanent nail damage. Like many other fungal conditions, a nail fungus just loves warm, moist, sweaty places such as a sock or shoe that has been worn for too long! And we give this condition all the help it needs to spread when we notice a white or yellow spot under the tip of our fingernail or toenail and we don’t do anything about it.
Plantar is the medical term for the sole of your feet. Although planter warts
are similar to warts that occur on the hands, they take on a different appearance when they are pushed into the skin’s surface by the weight of the body walking or standing on them. All warts are caused by a virus and all are infectious. Plantar warts can be particularly stubborn and hard to get rid of once they have taken a firm hold so treating them sooner rather than later is recommended. The warts have the appearance of an area of rough skin with a dry crusty surface. Small black dots are visible deep inside – these are dried up capillary blood vessels. The pain increases when pressure is applied to the plantar warts particularly when standing or walking as they become flattened from the pressure of the weight of the body. Feels like walking on a small stone.
If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can progress to an infection or even an abscess that requires surgical treatment. Osteomyelitis is a rare complication of an infected toe, in which the bone itself becomes infected. Find out more here.
Protect your feet from blisters and these other conditions
Keep your feet dry as well as avoiding wearing wet shoes and changing your socks once or twice a day at least.
- Try to wear protective footwear in extreme temperatures, making sure that you buy shoes that fit properly.
- Avoid walking barefoot for long periods but some barefoot is beneficial, letting your feet breathe. Grounding is another useful tool.
- Treat your feet to a foot bath by filling a bowl with warm to hot water to which you can add spices such as a teaspoon each of cayenne, cinnamon and ginger or a few drops each of some essential oils such as black pepper and geranium.
- Give you feet a really good soak until they are nicely softened. Then use a pumice stone or nail brush to scrub away all that dead skin. When completely clear, rinse off and dry well.
- Then treat your feet to a thorough massage paying particular attention to the arch of the foot. Massage each toe making sure to press the points around the heel. Use a hydrating moisturizer for your massage or some sesame oil.
- Trim your toe nails while they are soft and warm, cutting straight across the top of the nail in a neat line. Watch out for any symptoms of the nail fungus mentioned above.
- Signs of cracked heels? Keep them well moisturized and covered.
- In cold weather and to improve circulation, you can add a dash of cayenne to your foot moisturizer or a sprinkling of mustard powder into your socks for added warmth.
Our feet can be exposed to so many different activities
While these activities are to be encouraged for all their health benefits, they can lead to problems with our feet.
Here are some that could be relevant for you and your family.
Outdoor pursuits such as walking, hiking, running or rock climbing; playing games of golf, tennis, soccer or football; all the winter sports of skating, skiing and snowboarding; or leisure activities including dancing, yoga or working out.
All of these may need and deserve some extra TLC for your feet!