Put your best foot forward for great foot health!
This April is Foot Health month, a chance to check that our feet are getting the care and attention that they need. At Footwell Podiatry, Hilary Rimmer is looking to raise awareness of the importance of good foot health, as part of this campaign from the College of Podiatry.
Foot care is important through all stages of life. For children, it is necessary to take extra care with foot health to avoid problems and deformities in later life, and as we get older, everyday wear and tear can take its strain. Podiatrists are experts in all aspects of the foot and lower limb, who undergo years of specialist training to enable them to diagnose, treat and help people to look after their feet and lower limbs.
Feet are one of the hardest working parts of our body, but they are also one of the most neglected. It is important to get to know your feet and not ignore any foot pain which you might experience. Walking through pain or ignoring problems can over time cause damage to the feet and lower limbs. So if your feet hurt, or you notice anything unusual about them, visit a registered podiatrist, who can diagnose causes of pain and receive appropriate treatment.
Five easy ways to keep your feet healthy
- Cut nails correctly. It’s best to use nail nippers rather than cutters, because they have a small cutting blade and a longer handle. Cut nails straight across ensuring that they are not digging in, nor 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 moisturiser all over the foot. Avoid moisturiser on the nails to prevent a fungal infection or between the toes, as this can cause the skin to become overly soft and 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 visit a podiatrist.
Always ensure that any practitioners you visit are registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and describe themselves as a podiatrist (or chiropodist).
Visit www.cop.org.uk for more information about foot health
About the College of Podiatry
The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for podiatry in the UK, and is the professional body for the UK’s registered podiatrists. It sets academic and clinical standards, promotes research and education and public awareness of foot health. Podiatry is the field of medicine that specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the foot and lower limb.