Keep your feet clean and dry
. Healthy feet start with good hygiene. Thoroughly clean and scrub your feet with soap and water when you bathe. Afterward, dry them well. Fungal organisms love moisture, so depriving them of any wetness will make it more difficult for them to thrive. Be sure to dry well between each individual toe, says Dr. Kurtz. Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin.
Examine your feet for problems
. Perform a foot self-exam once a week when you take a bath or shower, recommends Kurtz. As youre drying off your feet, take a good look on the soles for any scaling and between your toes for peeling areas. That could signal athletes foot. Also look for discoloration of the nails, which could indicate a nail fungus. If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day since diabetes leads to higher risk of foot sores and infections.
Cut toenails properly
. Cut nails straight across and avoid trimming too close to the skin or drastically rounding the corners of the nails, which can cause painful, ingrown toenails.
Dont hide ugly toenails with polish
. A discolored, thick, cracked, or crumbling nail could signal a nail fungus. Applying nail polish to an infected nail could make the problem worse.
Protect your feet in public areas
. Be sure to wear shower shoes at the gym, in locker rooms, and at public pools. These places tend to be breeding grounds for fungi that can lead to infections.
Avoid sharing footgear
. You can get fungal infections by wearing other peoples shoes, as well as socks worn by another person, says Kurtz. This includes rentals. Always wear your own footgear to help keep your feet healthy.
Head of sweaty feet
. Your feet have sweat glands galore 250,000 in each foot! Perspiration creates the perfect environment for bacteria to set up shop. Wearing socks that keep feet dry will help your feet stay healthy. Socks made of synthetic fibers tend to wick away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks, says Kurtz. Also avoid wearing excessively tight pantyhose, which trap moisture.
Choose breathable footwear
. To help keep your feet dry and healthy, wear shoes made of leather to allow air to circulate. If youre prone to excessively sweaty feet, look for shoes made of mesh fabrics for maximum breathability.
Wear shoes that fit properly
. Shoes that are too tight can cause long-term foot problems, says Kurtz. Shop for shoes at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that occurs later in the day, and wear the same type of socks or hosiery youll be wearing with the shoes. Choose a broad, rounded shoe with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, stable heel. Avoid pointy shoes, which can cramp your toes and cause ingrown toenails and calluses.
Know when to see a doctor
. Dont attempt to self-treat painful foot woes. I see many patients who have attempted what I call bathroom surgery, and theyve made the problem worse, says Kurtz. Any pain, redness, swelling, or discoloration that persists should be checked out by a podiatric physician. Usually the problem can be cleared up with prescription medicine or a minor in-office procedure. Allowing a doctor to take a look will help prevent minor problems from becoming maj
Foot pain advice for over 60s
. If youre over 60, foot care becomes even more important. Age takes its toll: your skin thins, your joints begin to stiffen and your feet become more vulnerable to the cold.Not only that, but as podiatrist Emma Supple says: Physically, it gets more difficult for us to get to our feet, and failing eyesight doesnt help.Emma says: Go to see a professional for a foot MOT every six months and never put up with foot pain as if it is normal. Your feet sh
Inspect your feet daily
. Check your feet for cuts, blisters, scratches, redness and swelling. Catching these problems early can help prevent more serious complications later.
Never trim corns and calluses
. Over-the-counter chemical agents and do-it-yourself corn and callous treatments can irritate the skin of your feet. Ask your podiatrist to trim any corns or calluses you develop.
Wear clean dry socks
. Keeping your feet clean and dry is the first step to avoiding infection. Socks should be free of significant seams and stitching and made of moisture-wicking materials. Dyes that bleed from sock fabric can cause infections in open wounds.
Avoid loose or tight fitting socks
. Socks that are too loose can cause friction inside your shoes, which can lead to blisters and other irritations. Socks that are too tight can restrict blood circulation.
. Smoking impairs blood circulation. Maintaining healthy blood circulation to their extremities is key to preventing amputation for people with diabetes.
Get periodic foot exams
. Visit a podiatrist if youre experiencing symptoms or you have any questions at all about the health of your feet. Your podiatrist will recommend how often you should have follow-up appointments.
Smooth It Out
. Make it a habit to use a pumice stone or foot file on damp heels and calluses. Doing so will keep your feet looking good in open-back shoes.First, soak your feet in water or a foot bath for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften the skin. Then gently remove the thickened skin with a pumice stone. New York podiatrist Isaac Tabari, DPM, recommends a warm foot bath made of black tea (tannic acid). Tannic acid, he says, is a natural antibacterial agent that
. If your heels are very dry and cracked, see a podiatrist or dermatologist for a prescription treatment. If theyre not that bad, there are plenty of moisturizing products from which to choose. First, you might try some medicated heel pads, which dont need a prescription, to soften calluses while you walk. After youve exfoliated the calluses, use a heavy cream to moisturize tough skin on your heel.Look for creams containing petrolatum, an emollient
. Over-the-counter antifungal treatments come in many forms lacquers, creams, lotions, liquids, spray powders, and spray liquids. These products work best on mild cases of athletes foot, and probably not at all with toenail fungus, which is difficult to treat. No matter the form, they have one of the following active ingredients, which are all equally effective: terbinafine, tolnaftate, miconazole, ciclopirox, or clotrimazole. Tabari says tea tre
. Wear sunscreen on the tops of your feet. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to your feet when youre going barefoot or wearing open sandals.
. Standing for a long time can make your feet sore. Wearing insoles can help make shoes more comfortable.Look for insoles that have a plastic shell at the bottom. Podiatrists say the shell makes them strong enough to provide real support.
Dont Forget Your Toenails
. Love getting pedicures? The technique matters. Clumsy trimming can lead to hangnails and ingrown toenails.Also, make sure the nail technician gently pushes back the cuticle rather than cuts it, which can lead to an infection.If you do your own nails, look for nail nippers that have a curved handle and a cutting jaw shaped to follow the natural curve of nails.Your nails naturally become more brittle with age. Ingredients in some nail polish and po
Check with your doctor
. Have your doctor check your bare feet and find out whether you are likely to have serious foot problems. Remember that you may not feel the pain of an injury.Call your doctor right away if a cut, sore, blister, or bruise on your foot does not begin to heal after one day. Follow your doctors advice about foot care.
. Wash and dry your feet with mild soap and warm water. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes, an area more prone to fungal infections. Use lotion on your feet to prevent cracking, but dont put the lotion between your toes.Do not soak feet, or youll risk infection if the skin begins to break down. And if you have nerve damage, take care with water temperature. You risk burning your skin if you cant feel that the water is too hot.
. Trim toenails straight across with a nail clipper. You can prevent ingrown toenails if you dont round the corners of the nails or cut down the sides. Smooth the nails with an emery board.
Inspect Your Feet Every Day
. Nerve damage is a complication of diabetes that makes it hard to feel when you have sores or cracks in your feet. Patients with diabetes are looking for any changes in color, sores, or dry, cracked skin, says podiatrist Steven Tillet, DPM, of Portland, Ore. Place a mirror on the floor to see under your feet or ask a friend or relative for help if you cant see all parts of your feet clearly.
Skip Hot Tubs
. When people with diabetes develop nerve damage or neuropathy, its hard to tell if the bath water is too hot. They wont realize they are actually scalding their skin, explains Dr. Tillet. Stepping into a bath before checking the temperature can cause serious damage to your feet, and burns and blisters are open doors to infection. Use your elbow to check the water temperature before getting into the tub or shower.
Invest in Proper Footwear and Socks
. Shoe shopping for people with diabetes requires a little more attention to detail than you may be used to. Tillet advises looking for shoes with more depth in the toe box, good coverage of both top and bottom, and without seams inside the shoe that can rub on your foot. Likewise, seek socks without seams, preferably socks that are padded and made from cotton or another material that controls moisture.
Dont Go Barefoot
. Wearing shoes with good coverage outside to protect your feet makes sense to most people, but even inside your house, puttering around without shoes puts your feet at risk for small cuts, scrapes, and penetration by splinters, glass shards, and the misplaced sewing needle or thumbtack. If you have neuropathy, you might not notice these dangerous damages until they become infected. Its best to wear shoes at all times, even in the house.
Keep Your Skin Dry
. Make sure that drying your feet is part of your hygiene routine. The space between the toes is very airtight, says Tillet. Skin gets moist and breaks down, leading to infection. Prevent this by toweling off thoroughly after washing your feet and by removing wet or sweaty socks or shoes immediately. You can still use moisturizer to prevent dry, cracked skin just avoid putting it between your toes.
Treat Foot Woes Promptly
. Attend to bunions, calluses, corns, hammertoes, and other aggravations promptly, so they dont lead to infection due to pressure sores and uneven rubbing. Even seemingly harmless calluses may become problems if you ignore them, notes Tillet. See a podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in foot care, instead of heading to the pharmacy for an over-the-counter product for feet some products are irritating to your skin and can actually increase the ris
. Because wearing the correct shoes is so important, orthotic footwear is a great investment in protection and comfort. Shoes made especially for people with diabetes are available at specialty stores and through catalogs, or you can visit your podiatrist for advice. Medicare Part B will cover one pair of depth-inlay or custom-molded diabetic shoes a year, plus additional inserts to reduce pressure on your feet. Your doctor may recommend this type
Opt for Non Impact Aerobics
. People with diabetes benefit from exercise, but you still must go easy on your feet. Many fitness classes and aerobics programs include bouncing, jumping, and leaping, which may not be the best activities for your feet, especially if you have neuropathy. Instead, look into programs, such as walking, that dont put too much pressure on your feet. Just make sure you have the right shoe for whatever activity you choose.
Quit Smoking Now
. The dangers of smoking run from your head to your feet. The nicotine in a cigarette can decrease the circulation in the skin by 70 percent, says Tillet. So if you smoke, you are depriving your feet of the nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood that helps keep them healthy and fights infection. Diabetic patients already have risk factors that compromise their blood vessels. Its never too late to stop smoking, says Tillet.
Control Blood Sugar
. Theres a direct relationship between blood sugar level and damage to the nerve cells, says Tillet. Out-of-control blood sugar leads to neuropathy, which will make it hard to know when your feet are at risk or being damaged. The better you are at controlling your blood sugar, the healthier your feet will be over the long term. Finally, if you already have an infection, high blood sugar levels can make it hard for your body to fight it.
Get Regular Checkups
. Your doctor and your diabetes team are great sources of information if you need ideas and inspiration for taking care of your feet, quitting smoking, or staying on top of your numbers your weight, blood sugar, and other measures of health, such as blood pressure. Of course, if you notice any changes in your feet that concern you, its a good idea to see your doctor before your next regularly scheduled check-up.