You cram them into shoes for hours on end. You accidentally slam them against table legs. You might even think just letting soapy water run down over them in the shower is “good enough” for cleaning them.
Our feet have a pretty tough job, and odds are high we don’t give them as much care as they deserve. Another recent blog post discussed ways to help our feet that will pay off benefits in the future, but how about some actions that pay off right here and now?
The more you can do for your feet, the better, so let’s delve into some of the more immediate ways you can protect your feet and keep them at their best.
Keep Your Feet Clean
Your feet are not your car. You can’t just wait for the rain to come and wash them now and then.
(And if you do get out there and give your car more cleaning attention than your feet, you may want to review your priorities. One of these modes of transportation has to last you a lot longer than the other!)
You should clean your feet once per day, and the process should involve warm water, soap, and some scrubbing. A washcloth is good, but a bristle brush can really get that dead skin off.
Washing your feet regularly can help prevent irritation, which can contribute to calluses and cracks. It can also help protect you against fungal infections such as toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. That makes washing your feet daily an absolute must if you frequent pools and locker rooms.
And if you are wondering whether a shower or a bath is better, both are fine. Just don’t stay in the bathtub forever. The longer you soak your feet, the more likely you are to strip away too many of the skin’s natural oils, leading to dryness.
Trim Your Toenails Properly
Clipping your toenails seems like child’s play. But hey, we’re human. There are ways to do this wrong, and those ways can increase your risk of trouble.
First of all, use the proper tool for the job. Large clippers are made for toenails. Smaller ones are made for fingernails. Using the smaller ones on larger, thicker toenails can require more individual cuts, which can make for jaggedness. Catch a jagged end of a nail against your sock and it is more likely to tear (your nail; not the sock).
You also don’t want to use the same pair of clippers between your toenails and fingernails, anyway. If you develop a fungal infection in one area, sharing clippers between them is a good way of spreading that fungus to more places you don’t want it.
When you clip your toenails, aim for a relatively straight-across cut, and leave some white at the edge. Cutting too close or too rounded can damage the nail bed. It can also cause your nails to curve more when they grow, resulting in an ingrown toenail.
Now let’s talk about timing. Is it better to clip your toenails when they’re dry, or just after you’ve gotten out of the tub or shower?
If your toenails are particularly thick, having them wet can help soften them a bit and make for easier clipping. However, you do not want them too soft. This can increase the risk of tearing and pain. If your nails are relatively easy to cut while dry, always opt for that instead.
You don’t have to treat your feet like they’re at a spa to benefit from good moisturizing (but if it helps you to think of things that way, go right ahead!).
Feet dry out more easily than just about any other part of the body. This is due to the fact they contain a lot of sweat glands that jettison moisture but few oil glands to help keep moisture in. Dry climates and spending too much time in very hot showers or baths can contribute to this dryness.
Dryness can lead to rough feet, of course, but the problem is more than aesthetic. Dryness can also lead to cracks that have the potential to grow painful and even infected.
A good time to moisturize is after you bathe, when feet are still a little soft and damp. Once again, you don’t need to have something fancy or especially aromatic if that is not your style. What you should look for in a moisturizer is:
- Lactic acid
- Salicylic acid
The above ingredients work well on exfoliating dead, dry skin. An extra moisturizing boost can be received from additional ingredients such as coconut oil, beeswax, or shea butter.
One caveat for moisturizing: do not glop the stuff between your toes. It is a lot easier for moisture to become trapped here than on other places of the feet, and excess moisture can also lead to skin problems.
Keep Your Feet Out of the Swamp
While our feet can expend a lot of moisture via sweat, it does not help to have that moisture trapped for long periods against our skin.
Soaking in foot sweat is not only potentially damaging to the skin, but also increases the risks of foot odor and fungal infections (they love damp, dark places like sweaty shoes).
If your socks tend to get soaked in sweat during the day, bring along a dry pair of socks to switch into when you can. It’s better for your feet, and a whole lot more comfortable for you!
You should also give your shoes ample opportunity to dry out. Wearing the same pair of shoes every will keep them damp, which gives fungus more opportunity to take hold. Swap shoes daily and give a pair at least 24 hours of drying time before putting them on again.
If your feet sweat much more than you feel they normally should, you might have a condition known as hyperhidrosis. This can often be treated via treatments or prescriptions.
Schedule an Appointment with Us!
If you have any aches, pains, skin problems, or even hyperhidrosis, why not help your feet right now by giving us a call? Problems that can be addressed now can lead to much more comfort and a lower risk of complications in the future.
We have two offices ready to serve your foot and ankle needs. Call us in Princeton at (609) 924-8333 or in Roselle Park at (908) 687-5757.