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Foot Care

The intricate workings of the various bones, muscles, and  ligaments of your feet, ankles, and lower leg make this section of your  body susceptible to injury, disease, and other conditions. However, with  proper preventative care, you can take an active role in protecting  your feet, ankles, and lower legs.

Education is the key to maintaining good podiatric health. By  understanding your specific foot care needs, including the best way to  exercise your feet, ankles, and legs, you can reduce the chance of  injury.

Review the following information to be better informed and to become proactive in improving your podiatric health:

Exercise Tips

Exercise can lead to improved overall health. From reducing the chance of heart disease and stroke to decreasing stress, exercise can help all facets of your physical and mental health. Proper exercising techniques can also reduce pain in your feet and legs.

Learn more about keeping your feet healthy through exercise:

Before you start a new exercise regimen, you should consult your doctor. Also, if you injure yourself while exercising, contact your doctor for treatment.

Ankle Braces and Support

An ankle brace is often used to treat a twisted or sprained ankle. When an ankle is sprained it may swell, become stiff or tender, and may be painful to walk on. An ankle brace wraps around the ankle and uses compression to reduce swelling. It also provides stability by supporting the surrounding ligaments and muscles. An ankle brace is usually worn for a few weeks after a sprain, to help the foot function effectively while the ankle heals.

What to look for in ankle support

There are a few things to look for when choosing an ankle brace. For a mild sprain, an elastic bandage that wraps around the ankle may be all that is needed. Such a brace will compress the ankle to reduce swelling; however, it will not provide much support. For more severe sprains, additional support is necessary. In this case, look for a brace that completely surrounds the ankle and has a strap or laces that allow you to adjust the tightness of the brace.

Issues created by improper fit

It is important to find an ankle brace that fits properly and provides the right amount of support and compression. If an ankle sprain is mild, avoid using an ankle brace that is too restrictive. If the ankle is not able to move enough after a mild sprain, it may become weak and recovery will take longer.

Similarly, if an ankle sprain is severe, it is important to choose a brace that compresses the ankle and limits movement. If the ankle is able to move too much after a severe sprain, it may cause more damage and take longer to heal. Therefore, a brace used to treat a severe sprain should completely surround the ankle and have straps so the tightness of the brace can be adjusted. This will ensure that it provides enough stability.

If you're not sure what type of ankle brace will be most beneficial for you, consult your doctor.

Best Walking Practices

Walking is a good form of exercise with many health benefits, including:

  • Boosting energy.
  • Helping to strengthen your bones.
  • Helping your heart circulate more blood and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your organs.
  • Reducing stress, which can produce a more restful night's sleep.

Doctors often recommend walking for 30 minutes, three times a week. However, if you have health problems or have not exercised in quite some time, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a walking exercise regimen.

Tips for proper walking

  • Proper footwear: The first key to proper walking is wearing comfortable shoes. Walking shoes should have arch support and allow enough room for the toes to wiggle, but they should not pinch or rub. Socks should be worn to protect the feet and keep them dry. Synthetic socks are best because they dry quickly and keep moisture away from the foot. Some socks also have a padded heel for additional support.
  • Warm up: When beginning a walk, it is important to warm up by walking at a slow pace for the first five minutes. By allowing your muscles to warm up prior to starting a more rigorous pace, you can reduce your risk of injury.
  • Walking posture: Throughout the walk be sure to maintain good posture and breathe naturally. Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed and your torso should be upright with abs tightened and elbows at 90 degrees. Keep your arms close to your body and swing them forward and backward, but do not let your hands cross your body as this will slow you down.
  • Proper stride: When you walk, your heel should make contact with the ground first and you should roll your weight through the center of your foot to your toe and then push off from the toe to take your next step. Try to keep an even stride and a steady pace. You can increase your speed, but do so gradually. When increasing your pace, focus on using the flexibility in your hips to take quicker steps as opposed to longer strides.
  • Cool down: Be sure to finish your workout with a cool down by walking at a slow pace for about five minutes. A cool down can help to prevent muscle soreness and injuries.
  • Pain awareness: If you feel pain at any time during your walk, slow down or stop walking until the pain subsides. Do not fight through the pain, as it may be a sign of an injury and continuing to walk can make the condition worse. If the pain persists or is severe, contact your doctor.

After-walk home care

After a walk, it is important to take a few minutes to stretch. Stretching can help to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. If your feet are sweaty, either change into a clean, dry pair of socks, or wash and dry your feet. Also, be sure to check your feet for any blisters or sores you may have gotten while walking, and treat them appropriately.

If your feet are swollen, soak them in warm water for five minutes and then in cool water for another five minutes. This should help to relax the feet and reduce swelling. For sore or tired feet, a foot massage can help relieve tension. Lotion can also be applied to prevent dry skin.

For more information about proper walking techniques or foot care, consult your doctor.

Common Exercise Related Foot Problems

Although regular exercise is necessary for attaining optimal overall health, exercising can cause a number of foot problems. Without stretching adequately, wearing suitable footwear, and maintaining proper form while exercising, you risk injury to the tendons, muscles, bones, and skin of your feet.

Fortunately, while many exercise-related foot problems can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they can be healed with proper treatment. If you have a foot injury or condition caused from exercising, a skilled podiatrist can provide the necessary treatment to return or improve foot functionality.

Types of exercise related problems

Common exercise-related foot problems include:

Bone problems:

  • "Policeman's Heel" (injury to the heel bone caused by a sudden impact).
  • Foot- and toe-bone breaks and fractures (full or partial breaking of the bones).

Nerve problems:

  • Morton's Neuroma (pinching of the nerves between the toes).

Skin problems:

  • Athlete's Foot (a fungal skin infection).
  • Blisters (friction burns to the skin).
  • Bunions (enlargement of the soft tissue and bone inside the ball of the big toe).

Tendon problems:

  • Metatarsalgia (inflammation of the toe joints).
  • Plantar fasciitis (injury of the arch-of-foot tendon).
  • Turf toe (injury to the ligaments of the big toe).

Other problems:

  • Arch pain.
  • Ball-of-foot pain.
  • Forefoot pain.

Causes and symptoms of exercise foot problems

Many exercises, particularly high-impact ones such as contact sports and jogging, place great stress on your feet and legs, thereby increasing the risk of injury. Foot injuries may occur suddenly (i.e. toe sprains) or over time (i.e. tendon problems caused by repetitive movements).

The following factors can increase the likelihood of exercise-related foot problems:

  • Failing to alternate between more- and less-strenuous exercises (thereby increasing stress on the foot tissues).
  • Failing to stretch properly before and after exercising.
  • Wearing shoes that do not provide proper exercise support.

If you experience any of the symptoms of an exercise-related foot problem, including pain, tightness, and/or heat in the foot or toes, and difficulty standing or walking, call your doctor right away.

Treatment for exercise related foot problems

Treatment for an exercise-related foot problem depends on the cause and type of problem. Generally, tendon and bone problems are stabilized with a splint, bandage, or cast, thereby allowing the foot to heal. Your doctor will usually treat skin problems with a topical medication. Nerve problems may require surgery or another treatment.

If you believe you have an exercise-related foot problem and would like to learn more about your treatment options, contact your doctor for the information you need to make an informed decision for your health.

Leg Stretches

Techniques for maintaining healthy legs

Keeping your legs healthy and functional is a key component of maintaining overall podiatric health. By stretching your legs properly and regularly, you can help prevent strain and injury to the leg muscles, tendons, and joints. Leg stretches can also minimize problems caused by structural defects of your feet and legs (i.e. inward-turned ankles). Whether you are seeking to prevent a leg injury, treat a leg condition, or maintain the flexibility of your legs, stretches can help you reach your goal.

Samples of leg stretches

The following leg stretches can help minimize many foot, knee, and ankle problems, including injury to the Achilles tendon. Stretch only until you feel a slight pull of the muscles; do not bounce or over-stretch.

  • Hamstring stretch (stretches the back of the upper-leg muscle): Stand in front of a chair, keeping both legs straight, and place your left foot on the chair. Lower your head toward your left knee until the left leg muscles are tight. Hold, then relax; repeat five times. Repeat with the right leg.
  • Calf stretch (stretches the back of the lower-leg muscle): Stand two feet from a wall, facing the wall. Keeping both feet flat on the floor and the legs and back straight, lean towards the wall. Hold the stretch, and then relax. Repeat ten times.
  • Stretching prior to exercise: Stretch the legs for five to 10 minutes before exercise. It is also recommended that you alternate between less-strenuous and more-strenuous aerobic activities (i.e. swimming and jogging, respectively) to minimize impact on the foot and leg tissues.

When to see a doctor

If you have suffered a leg injury, or if you experience discomfort that does not subside with self-care techniques, contact your doctor. With a proper diagnosis and treatment from a skilled foot care professional, you can restore or improve functionality to your legs.

Proper Shoes for Activities

The key to enhancing performance and preventing injuries in athletics and day-to-day physical activities is to wear proper-fitting shoes. It is important to find shoes that not only feel comfortable, but also protect your feet.

Choosing between different types of athletic shoes and sneakers can be difficult. Shoes come in different designs, materials, and weights. Every shoe design is distinct; shoes are designed to protect the areas of the feet that receive the most stress and impact during physical activities. Since every sport requires a different type of movement, it is important to find a shoe designed specifically for one particular activity.

What to look for

There is a reason shoes are labeled as running shoes, walking shoes, tennis shoes, soccer shoes, aerobics shoes, or cross-trainers; each of these types of shoes has a unique design. While it is not uncommon for people to utilize a single pair of sneakers for multiple types of activities, it is always best to find a shoe that it suited for the right activity.

Here are some tips to help you match your shoes to a particular physical activity:

  • Walking - Walking shoes should have good shock absorption, smooth tread, and a flexible sole that encourages rolling of the feet.
  • Running - Running shoes should be light with added cushioning, flexibility, and stability in the heel.
  • Court Shoes - Basketball, tennis, and volleyball shoes should have good ankle support and a thick sole.
  • Field Sports - Soccer, football, softball, and baseball shoes are usually cleated or studded. These shoes must provide good traction.
  • Hiking - Hiking shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box, a thick sole, and strong ankle support.
  • Track and Field - Track and field shoes vary depending on the type of race being run. There are different shoes to fit different gaits and training styles.

Issues created by improper shoe fit

Many serious foot conditions are caused by one thing – poorly fitting or inappropriate footwear. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause:

  • Blisters.
  • Bunions.
  • Calluses.
  • Hammertoes.

Inappropriate shoe wear can lead to:

  • Ankle sprains.
  • Fractures.
  • Heel pain.
  • Metatarsalgia.
  • Other painful foot disorders.
  • Shin splints.

For example, running shoes are designed to support the foot as it moves forward heel-to-toe with extra cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot. On the other hand, aerobics shoes and cross-trainers are designed to support side-to-side movements. It is usually acceptable to wear cross-trainers when running, but wearing running shoes to an aerobics class can lead to serious foot and ankle injuries. The best way to avoid injury is to make sure the shoe you select is designed for your chosen activity.

Running and Jogging Injuries

Running and jogging provides a number of health benefits, making these exercises an excellent option for improving one's overall well-being; however, running is a high-impact exercise, causing many joggers to injure their feet and legs.

Common injuries

Some common running and jogging injuries include:

Arch problems:

  • Flat feet caused by overpronation (running with the toes turned in).

Bone problems:

  • Broken bones and stress fractures.

Nerve problems:

  • Morton's Neuroma (pinching of the nerves between the toes).

Other problems:

  • Shin splints (inflammation of the sheath surrounding the shin bone).
  • Sprains (stretching and/or tearing of a ligament).
  • Strains (stretching and/or tearing of a muscle).

Skin problems:

  • Athlete's Foot (a fungal skin infection).
  • Blisters.
  • Bunions.

Tendon problems:

  • Metatarsalgia (inflammation of the toe joints).
  • Plantar fasciitis (injury of the arch-of-foot tendon).
  • Turf toe (injury to the ligaments of the big toe).

If you have suffered one of these injuries, or if you are experiencing symptoms of a running-related injury, your doctor can help. With proper treatment, you can have the health and functionality of your feet and legs improved or restored.

Causes and symptoms of running /jogging injuries

Some jogging injuries are simply the result of placing stress on your feet and legs – an unavoidable component of many physical exercises. Many jogging injuries result from improper preparation (e.g. failing to stretch properly prior to exercise and failure to wear proper footwear). Others stem from over training (e.g. running too hard or too fast, thereby placing excessive strain on the feet and legs).

The symptoms of jogging injuries include:

  • Burning or itching of the skin.
  • Decreased performance.
  • Difficulty running.
  • Discomfort, tightness, and/or heat in the feet and legs.
  • Snapping or crackling sounds in the joints.

Treatment for running / jogging injuries

In treating a jogging or running injury, your doctor will take into consideration a number of factors, including the cause of the injury, type of iinjury, and your overall health. Generally speaking, tendon and bone injuries respond well to stabilizing the area of injury thereby allowing the tissues to heal. Skin injuries may need topical treatment while nerve injuries may require more invasive solutions.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a running- or jogging-related injury, call your doctor to learn about treatment that can help resolve your pain.

The Importance of Good Socks

When purchasing socks, most people generally do not think about the total protection they provide. Socks are used for more than just padding and cushioning, they serve as a barrier between the shoes and the feet. A good pair of socks can help absorb some of the pounding suffered by feet and ankles, reduce soreness following physical activities, and prevent foot conditions like calluses, blisters, and fungal infection.

What to look for in a good pair of socks

Finding good socks is not as easy as choosing the most expensive brand. Socks need to be comfortable, and they should also be suited to the proper activity and use.

Here are a few things to consider when picking out socks:

  • Do not purchase socks without trying them on first.
  • If you are an athlete, try to find socks designed specifically for your sport.
  • Look for a high thread count (denser socks repel moisture and protect the feet for longer periods).
  • Look for socks with a reinforced heel and toe.
  • Look for socks with cushion sole support.
  • Make sure to buy the proper sock size; your toes should reach the seam, and the heel padding should hit your heel in the proper place.

Issues created by improper sock fit

Finding a pair of properly fitting shoes is one of the best ways to prevent foot injury, and a pair of good socks an provide extra insurance against injury. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true; poorly fitting socks can cause blisters, calluses, and abrasions.

Socks that are too tight often trap moisture; this can lead to fungal development and conditions like athlete's foot and toenail fungus. Socks with insufficient cushioning also pose problems for athletes, particularly anyone who plays sports that require pounding feet on pavement and jumping.

A good pair of socks will keep feet cool, dry, and comfortable. To avoid blisters, hot spots, abrasions, and fungal growth, look for socks that wick away moisture and cause less friction and irritation.

Toe Exercises

Techniques for Maintaining Healthy Toes

If you have ever suffered a toe injury or even mild toe discomfort, you know how debilitating the loss of function in just one toe can be. Since the toes bear the brunt of our daily walking and exercise, keeping the toes fit and supple is a top priority for maintaining podiatric health. Whether you have a toe condition or simply want to prevent one from occurring, there are a number of toe exercises that can strengthen the toes and help prevent injury.

Samples of toe exercises

The following toe exercises are useful for maintaining the toes' flexibility. They are particularly useful for treating hammertoes, toe cramps, ball-of-foot pain, and other toe problems related to over-constricting the foot muscles.

Pointing and flexing your toes

Exercise each toe, one by one. Point the toe, hold for 10 seconds, then flex the toe and hold for 10 seconds.

Squeezing your toes

Use your toes to hold a small cork or other pliable object. Squeeze the object for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Strengthening your toes

There are several toe-strengthening exercises you can perform, including:

  • Place a rubber band around all five toes on each foot. Splay the toes and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Place a small towel on the floor in front of you. Grip the towel with your toes and pull it toward you. (You can also place a weight on the end of the towel for added resistance.) Repeat five times.
  • Place 20 marbles on the floor in front of you. Using your toes, pick the marbles up, one at a time.

Massaging and relaxing your toes

Some options for relaxing your toes include:

  • Roll a golf ball on the ball of your foot, foot arch, and heel. (Helps relax the foot muscles and ease heel pain, foot cramps, and arch strain.)
  • Walk barefoot in the sand. (Massages the feet, strengthens the toes, and conditions the foot muscles and joints.)

When to see a doctor

If you are experiencing acute pain, or if your discomfort does not decrease with proper self-care methods, contact your doctor. A skilled podiatrist can determine the source of your discomfort and recommend any treatment you may need.

Foot Care By Group

There are some foot care tips and recommendations that are helpful for everyone. However, some specific groups of people tend to have generalized sets of foot problems. You should follow the foot care tips and recommendations that meet your needs and lifestyle.

Learn more about proper foot care based on your needs:

Foot Care for Athletes

Because jumping and running takes a toll on your feet, proper foot care is especially important for athletes. Athletes often suffer from injuries caused by repetitive motion, overuse of the joints, and recurring stress on the bones. They are also more prone to fungal infections. Fortunately, with proper foot care, many of these conditions can be prevented.

Foot ailments for athletes

Athletes may suffer from a variety of foot ailments including:

  • Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon).
  • Blisters.
  • Bursitis (inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a tendon and a bone).
  • Calluses.
  • Corns.
  • Fungal infections.
  • Metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot).
  • Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes).
  • Sesamoiditis (irritation or fracture of the tiny bones near the big toe joint).
  • Stress fractures (small cracks in a bone).

Foot care for athletes – tips and recommendations

Prevention guidelines and foot-care tips vary based on the type of injury or condition.

Blister, Corn, and Callus Prevention

It is important for athletes to take care of their feet in order to prevent injuries. Sores on your feet often develop as a result of wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or rub against the skin. Some precautions that can be taken to avoid blisters, corns, and calluses include:

  • Keeping your feet clean and dry.
  • Using lotion to soften your skin and prevent cracking.
  • Wearing shoes that are comfortable and fit properly so they don’t rub or irritate the skin.

Tendon, ligament, and bone injury prevention

Steps can also be taken to prevent tendon, ligament, and bone injuries such as sesamoiditis, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and metatarsalgia. These include:

  • Avoiding an activity or particular movement that causes pain.
  • Gradually increasing the intensity and/or duration of workouts.
  • Stretching before and after every workout to help loosen muscles and tendons.
  • Taking it easy if an injury starts to occur and allowing it time to heal.
  • Using insoles, arch supports, or heel pads to provide additional support and cushion. This is especially important for those with high arches or flat feet who are more susceptible to injury.

Fungal infection prevention

Fungal infections are common among athletes since damp or sweaty feet provide an ideal environment for fungus to grow. Some precautions that can be taken to prevent fungal infections include:

  • Changing socks throughout the day, if your feet sweat, in order to help keep them dry.
  • Drying your feet well, especially between the toes, after showering.
  • Wearing shower shoes in public showers.
  • Wearing socks made of a breathable fabric such as cotton.

If you suffer a foot injury and experience pain or inflammation, it is important to consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Foot Care for Children

Properly caring for the feet during childhood can help prevent foot problems in adulthood. It is important to take good care of a child's feet because they are in a critical stage of development when bone deformities first become apparent and injuries to the growth plate are more likely to occur.

Children may suffer from foot conditions that are inherited or caused by trauma or ill-fitting shoes. Fortunately, many common foot ailments in children can be prevented, and more serious conditions, such as bone deformities, can be corrected with proper treatment.

Foot ailments in children

Children may suffer from the following foot conditions:

  • Blisters.
  • Club foot (short tendons cause the foot to bend downward and inward).
  • Flat Feet.
  • Freiberg’s disease (injury to the growth plate that causes pain in the ball of the foot).
  • Gordon’s Syndrome (toe joints are fixed in a flexed position).
  • High arches.
  • Kohler’s disease (bone disorder due to loss of blood supply).
  • Osteochondroma (benign growth that forms at the end of the toes).
  • Sever’s disease (injury to the growth plate that causes heel pain).

Foot care for children – tips and recommendations

Foot problems that begin during childhood can often be treated to prevent more serious conditions in adulthood.

Proper footwear

Wearing shoes that do not fit properly can cause blisters and structural problems, such as curling of the toes or a high arch. These make a child more susceptible to foot injuries later in life, therefore it is extremely important for children to wear shoes that fit properly and have a little growing room. Typically, shoes must be replaced every few months. Children who have flat feet or high arches may benefit from insoles or arch supports that keep the foot properly aligned. Stretching exercises are also important to help loosen the muscles and tendons; this can prevent injury and may be beneficial in correcting a deformity in which the tendons are too tight.

Regular foot health checks

Children may not realize or be able to express when they have a foot ailment, so it is important to keep an eye out for any abnormalities or symptoms such as blisters or limping. All foot conditions should be addressed as soon as possible.

If a child has a foot deformity or is experiencing foot pain, it is important to seek treatment from a medical professional as soon as possible. If left untreated, the condition may lead to further problems down the road.

Foot Care for Diabetics

If you are suffering from diabetes, you need to take particularly good care of your feet in order to prevent injuries and infections. Diabetics often suffer from nerve damage that can cause numbness in the feet. When the feet are numb, injuries are more likely to go unnoticed. Diabetics also commonly suffer from poor circulation, which slows healing and increases the risk of infection. Combined, nerve damage and poor circulation can lead to more serious conditions. In fact, diabetics have the highest risk of amputation.

Fortunately, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent injuries. And if an injury does occur, prompt treatment can help ensure that more serious conditions are avoided.

Foot ailments affecting diabetics

Diabetics may suffer from foot ailments including:

  • Calluses.
  • Corns.
  • Blisters.
  • Foot ulcers.
  • Numbness due to nerve damage.
  • Poor circulation.

Tips for diabetics

Keeping diabetes under control can help prevent poor circulation and nerve damage, which is often the cause of more serious foot conditions. If you already have poor circulation and nerve damage as a result of diabetes, there are steps that can be taken to prevent foot ailments.

The first step is to set aside time daily to check your feet for cuts or sores. If any sores are found they should be treated right away to prevent infection. If the wound does not heal or begins to look infected, it is important to seek medical treatment to prevent a more serious condition.

Other preventative measures include:

  • Keeping the toe nails trimmed so they do not cut the skin.
  • Moisturizing your feet every day to prevent dry, cracked skin.
  • Not smoking, as smoking can harden the arteries; this only adds to the problem of poor circulation and slows healing.
  • Raising your feet when sitting so they are even with the hips, as this can help to improve circulation.
  • Staying active by doing light exercise, such as walking, every day to increase circulation.
  • Testing bath water before stepping in to avoid burning your feet.
  • Using a pumice stone to remove dry skin and smooth calluses.
  • Washing your feet in warm water every day and being sure to dry them completely, especially between the toes.
  • Wearing comfortable shoes in order to prevent blisters and sores on your feet.
  • Wearing socks and shoes at all times to protect your feet and prevent cuts.

As a diabetic, it is important to pay attention to the health of your feet. If you have any questions about proper foot health and maintenance as a diabetic, please contact your doctor for guidance.

Foot Care for Everyone

With 26 bones each, your feet contain a quarter of all of the bones in your body. Each foot also has 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. All of these pieces have to work together so your foot functions properly and has the added task of bearing the weight of your entire body.

It's not surprising that your feet are susceptible to numerous injuries and conditions. However, with proper foot care, you can reduce your risk of foot problems.

Foot ailments

No matter what your activity level is, there are various foot problems that can affect anyone. These problems include:

  • Broken bones and stress fractures.
  • Bunions, corns, and calluses.
  • Diseases including arthritis, cancer, gout, and diabetes.
  • Dry skin.
  • Foot deformities, including flat feet, hammertoes, and club foot.
  • Fungal and bacterial conditions including athlete's foot and toenail fungus.
  • Ingrown toenails.
  • Sprains and strains.
  • Warts.

Foot care tips and recommendations

Here are some general foot care tips and recommendations that can help you maintain healthy feet.

Use Proper Footwear

It is very important for you to use proper footwear. Here are some important tips when it comes to selecting shoes:

  • Alternate your footwear. Do not wear the same pair of shoes every day. It is better for your feet if you wear a different pair of shoes on alternating days.
  • Purchase shoes by the way they fit, not by the size number. Not only can your feet change sizes throughout your lifetime, but also some styles of shoes may fit differently on your feet and require a different size. Also, try on shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are most swollen. Be sure to purchase a shoe that has adequate room in the toe box.
  • Replace worn shoes as soon as possible. As your shoes get worn, you lose the proper fit and support. This can lead to various foot problems.
  • Wear the proper shoe for your activity. You wouldn't wear high heels to play basketball, would you? It is important for you to wear the right shoe for the activity that you are doing. For example, if you plan to go running, wear running shoes. If you are going to play soccer, wear a pair of cleats.

Maintain good foot hygiene

Although it may seem like common sense, it is important to wash your feet regularly. Also be sure to thoroughly dry your feet, especially between your toes to reduce the risk of fungal infections. Keeping your feet clean will reduce the risk of infection and help you notice new cuts, bruising, swelling, discoloration, or any other signs of injury or infection.

You also need to make sure that you trim your toenails. The nails should be cut straight across. Be sure to not cut the corners or sides of your nails, as this can lead to ingrown toenails.

Don't ignore foot pain

Although it might seem normal for your feet to ache after a long day, you should not ignore foot pain. Experiencing pain in your feet (namely pain that does not subside over time) may be a sign that something is wrong. Be sure to visit your doctor if you are suffering from pain or discomfort in your feet.

Be cautious about home care

If you suffer from diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems have someone else tend to your foot care, preferably a medical professional, since you may be prone to infection.

Also, if you have a foot condition or injury, you should speak with your doctor before treating the condition by yourself. In some cases, self-administered treatments without the guidance of a medical professional can actually turn a minor problem into a major issue.

For additional foot care tips, or to determine the cause and treatment for foot pain, visit a skilled podiatrist.

Foot Care for Seniors

If you are experiencing foot problems during your golden years, you are not alone. Studies suggest that three out of four people develop serious podiatric problems as they age.

As seniors, many experience decreased circulation and sensation in the limbs, muscle and joint changes, diminished flexibility, and other changes that can contribute to senior podiatric conditions.

Foot problems can also increase the risk of falls, injury, and certain diseases, since healthy feet are necessary for proper balance, adequate physical activity, and personal independence. Although seniors face unique challenges in keeping their feet healthy, these challenges are not insurmountable. With proper self-care and treatment by a skilled podiatrist, seniors can keep their feet fit and functional.

Common foot ailments among seniors

The following foot ailments are common among seniors:

  • Disease-related podiatric problems (i.e. foot problems associated with diabetes, arthritis, nerve damage, and poor circulation).
  • Dry, cracked skin (leads to sores, infections, and other problems).
  • Fractures and sprains.
  • Swelling of the feet and legs (edema).

Foot care for seniors – tips and recommendations

By adhering to the following guidelines, you can maintain foot health and prevent many podiatric problems:

  • Check your feet daily for blisters, corns, bruises, sores, infections, and other problems. Don’t wait until your feet hurt to obtain treatment.
  • Exercise daily (with your doctor’s permission).
  • Keep your toenails clipped.
  • Maintain proper circulation; prop your feet when sitting or lying down, stretch regularly, avoid crossing your legs while sitting, and refrain from smoking and other activities that hamper circulation.
  • Treat underlying conditions (e.g. diabetes, arthritis, etc…).
  • Wash your feet daily, exfoliate, and moisturize dry feet. Apply talcum powder to absorb extra sweat.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and socks daily.

Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Changes in skin color or shape of your foot.
  • Coldness, cramping, numbness, tingling, or discomfort.
  • Decreased foot sensitivity.
  • Pain.
  • Sores on your feet that become infected or don’t heal.

To learn more about taking care of your feet during your senior years, or to obtain treatment for a foot condition, contact an experienced podiatrist today. Your doctor can provide the treatment you need.

Foot Care for Women

In addition to the podiatric issues that affect people regardless of gender (e.g. common foot injuries, skin problems, etc.), women face a number of unique podiatric issues. Pregnancy-related foot problems as well as problems caused by wearing unsupportive footwear can be a barrier to optimal foot health and functionality for women. Fortunately, lifestyle and pregnancy-related foot problems need not permanently affect a woman’s podiatric health. With appropriate lifestyle adjustments and the help of a skilled podiatrist, women can maintain the fitness and functionality of their feet.

Common foot ailments for women

There are various causes for foot problems in women. Many of the root problems can foster numerous foot ailments. Highlighted below are some of the most common ones seen in women.

Foot problems caused by wearing unsupportive footwear

Unsupportive footwear can cause numerous foot ailments, including:

  • Ball-of-foot pain (metatarsalgia).
  • Bunions.
  • Calluses.
  • Foot and ankle sprains and fractures.
  • Inflammation and swelling.
  • Nerve damage.

Foot problems caused by pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause various foot problems, including:

  • Changes in the arch and foot size: caused by hormone fluctuation during pregnancy.
  • Heel pain (plantar fasciitis): caused by weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Swelling (edema) of the feet and ankles: caused by increased blood volume during pregnancy.
  • Toenail changes (e.g. brittleness, ridges, discoloration): caused by increased blood circulation and hormone levels during pregnancy.
  • Varicose veins: caused by changes in the blood vessels during pregnancy.

Foot care for women – tips and recommendations

By adhering to the following guidelines, you can minimize foot problems and keep your feet healthy:

  • Keep the toenails trimmed.
  • Obtain treatment at the first sign of a problem.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and socks every day.
  • During pregnancy:
  • Avoid standing and walking for long periods of time.
  • Change your shoe size as necessary.
  • Stay hydrated and limit salt intake.
  • Maintain proper nutrition.
  • Go swimming or take a bath to reduce swelling.
  • Rest on your left side.

Contact your doctor if you would like more information on how to maintain your feet health or if you need treatment for a foot problem. Your doctor can provide the treatment necessary to improve your podiatric fitness and functionality.

Foot Care for Workers on Their Feet

Many jobs require people to be on their feet for several hours each day. Hairdressers, retailers, nurses, and factory workers are among those who spend all day on their feet.

Standing or walking for extended periods of time puts excessive pressure on your feet and can cause foot ailments ranging from blisters to bunions. Over time, pressure on your feet can also cause back and leg pain as a result of poor posture. Fortunately, by wearing comfortable shoes, stretching regularly, and making sure your feet have proper support, many of these ailments can be prevented.

Foot ailments affecting workers on their feet

If you spend hours every day on your feet, you may suffer from foot ailments including:

  • Achy feet.
  • Blisters.
  • Bunions.
  • Calluses.
  • Corns.
  • Flat foot.
  • Fungal infections.
  • High arches.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Sweaty feet.
  • Toe malformation.

Recommendations for workers on their feet

There are a few recommendations that can help ease the stress on your feet if you spend your day standing or running around.

Proper footwear

If you spend hours at a time on your feet, it is especially important to wear comfortable shoes. Shoes shouldn’t rub or fit too tightly as this may cause blisters, corns, or calluses to form. Shoes should also allow plenty of room for your toes to move. Shoes that squeeze your toes together can cause loss of balance in the toe muscles which can result in an unnatural bending of your toes.

Wearing high heels all day should be avoided, as heels put more pressure on the ball of your foot. This can cause foot pain and may lead to the formation of bunions. If you must wear high heels, try to wear them only for a few hours at a time and switch into a pair of flats halfway through the day.

Where you stand

Standing or walking on a shock absorbent surface such as carpet, is preferable to a hard surface such as cement, and can reduce foot fatigue. Stretching your feet can also relieve foot pain, fatigue, and can help prevent injuries.

Utilizing proper support

Keeping your feet properly aligned and supported can reduce foot fatigue. Orthotic inserts can provide your feet with necessary support and act as shock absorbers, which is especially important if you walk or stand on hard surfaces. They can also help control movement of your feet which can improve posture. Arch supports are also beneficial if you suffer from over pronation or flat feet. Providing support to the arch can help prevent conditions such as plantar fasciitis.

Proper sock selection

Sweaty feet can be uncomfortable and makes you more susceptible to fungal infections. Wearing socks made of a breathable material such as cotton, and changing socks throughout the day can help keep your feet dry. If the skin becomes cracked from standing for extended lengths of time, moisturizing your feet can help keep the skin soft and smooth.

To learn more about foot ailments or how to treat conditions that affect workers who spend several hours a day on their feet, contact your doctor.

If you suffer from foot pain or a specific podiatric condition, be sure to speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

Footwear

Many people are more concerned about how a shoe looks than how it affects their foot health. However, if you are putting fashion ahead of function, you might be causing harm to your feet and ankles.

With a better understanding of the construction of a shoe and how to select the proper shoe for specific activities, you will be able to improve the overall health of your feet and ankles. Don't worry; functional shoes can still be fashionable. You just need to understand what to look for when purchasing shoes.

The information below can help you when selecting footwear:

Footwear for Deformities

  • Custom-made Shoes
  • Plaster Casts and Strappings

Anatomy of a Shoe

Orthotics

  • Over-the-Counter Orthotics
  • Rigid Orthotics
  • Semi-Rigid Orthotics
  • Soft Orthotics

Types of Shoes

  • Aerobic Shoes
  • Baseball and Softball Shoes
  • Basketball Shoes
  • Children's Shoes
  • Corrective Shoes
  • Cycling Shoes
  • General Athletic Shoes
  • Golf Shoes
  • Men's Shoes
  • Running Shoes
  • Soccer Shoes
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Walking Shoes
  • Winter Sport Shoes
  • Women's Shoes
  • Work Footwear

Wear Patterns

Foot Care Information

Your feet can be affected by various conditions that cause pain or discomfort. Many of these conditions can be treated with home remedies, but some need medical treatment by your doctor. Learn more about the following conditions and how you should treat them:

Blisters

A blister is a fluid-filled bubble that develops on the surface of skin. Foot blisters form from friction when skin rubs against shoes or another surface. This creates a tear in the epidermis, leaving a space between the layers of the skin which eventually fills with fluid.

Causes of blisters

Blisters are caused by friction, heat, inflammation, or moisture. Friction blisters usually develop when feet rub against shoes. They can be prevented by gradually breaking in new shoes or bandaging areas of skin that tend to rub against the shoe.

Common causes of blisters include:

  • Allergic reaction.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Chemical injury.
  • Contact dermatitis.
  • Frostbite.
  • Fungal infection.
  • Inappropriate footwear.
  • Insect bites.
  • Minor burns.

Blister symptoms

All blisters look similar and have the telltale bubble of skin filled with clear fluid. They can range in size from a few millimeters to as large as an inch in diameter.

Blisters may be accompanied by pain, warmth, redness, and itching. Some blisters are painful to the touch and others may simply feel tender. If the fluid within the blister is yellow or green, this may be a sign that the blister is infected.

Blister treatment

Most blisters do not require a doctor’s care. New skin will form beneath the blister and the fluid will be absorbed. It is best to avoid puncturing a blister. The bubble of skin that develops over the blister is a natural barrier to bacteria and helps reduce the risk of infection.

If blisters become painful and affect walking, it is best to drain the fluid while leaving the outer layer of skin intact. Wash the area thoroughly and use a sterilized needle to make a small hole in the blister. Squeeze out fluid, apply an antibiotic ointment, and bandage the blister.

It is important to contact a physician if there are any signs of infection around the blister. If you have diabetes or any other condition that results in poor circulation, speak to a physician before treating a blister on your own.

Blood Blisters

A blood blister is a type of blister that develops when blood vessels are damaged near the surface of the skin. Blood blisters form after a pinching or bruising injury that does not actually break the skin. Since the blood cannot escape through an open wound, it collects beneath a bubble under the surface of the skin.

Blood blisters are very similar to friction blisters. They usually do not require medical treatment. The blister will heal on its own within three to seven days.

Causes and symptoms of blood blisters

Blood blisters are caused by a rupture of the blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This rupture develops from injuries that pinch the skin, like getting your toe caught in a door. Blood blisters are also caused by severe force from kicking something hard or stubbing your toe. They may develop also from persistent pressure from inappropriate footwear.

A blood blister can be very painful when it first develops. Blood blisters resemble friction blisters in size and shape; the only difference is they appear darker from the small amount of blood trapped between layers of skin.

Blood blister treatment

Blood blisters usually do not require medical attention. They are very similar to normal skin blisters in the way that they heal. It is best to avoid popping blood blisters; if left alone, new skin will form beneath the blister and they will heal on their own within a week’s time. If a blood blister is accidentally punctured, only a small amount of blood will escape, but skin will feel raw and extremely painful.

Blood blisters should be covered with a sterile, soft dressing and washed frequently to keep them clear of irritants. If a blood blister breaks, it should be treated with antiseptic ointment to prevent infection. It is important to leave the skin over a blood blister intact, even if it ruptures. That layer of skin provides natural protection from bacteria.

Blood blisters that fail to heal on their own may require treatment. If there are any signs of infection near the blister like warmth, redness, or inflammation, contact a physician immediately.

Bunions

A bunion is a type of foot deformity that affects millions of men and women. Bunions form over time, but they begin when the big toe drifts inward. This throws off the alignment of the foot, changing the angle of bones in the front of the foot and eventually leading to the development of the characteristic bunion “bump” on the side of the big toe joint.

People often suffer with bunion pain for years before seeking treatment. The good news is that there is a variety of conservative treatments available to reduce the discomfort caused by bunions. Surgery is also an option when bunion pain becomes severe.

Causes of bunions

A bunion is more than just a growth on the outside of the foot; the bump reflects a complete shift in the bony framework of the foot. The cause of this shift is pressure and force. Tight-fitting shoes are usually the culprit. Shoes that have a narrow toebox and sloping foot bed force the toes forward and squeeze them together. The toes eventually become accustomed to the tight position and lead to the bunion deformity.

Genetics and past injuries also play a role in the development of bunions. Certain foot types make people more likely to get bunions, and women have a higher risk of developing bunions due to their choice of restrictive footwear.

Bunion symptoms

The most telling symptom of a bunion is the bony outgrowth that develops on the outside of the base of the big toe.

Other symptoms that may occur at the site of the bunion include:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Inflammation
  • Numbness, or alternately, a burning sensation
  • Red, calloused skin

Bunion pain is aggravated by wearing tight fitting shoes and shoes that crowd the toes. Spending long periods of time on your feet can also give rise to painful bunion symptoms.

Bunion treatment

When bunions first develop, they may not require intervention. If the only symptoms are cosmetic, the best course of action is to change your footwear immediately.

Bunions that are causing severe pain or leading to the development of additional foot deformities (like overlapping toes) may require surgical intervention. There are many different types of bunion surgeries available. These procedures are all designed to:

  • Address any soft tissue changes in the foot.
  • Correct misalignment of the front foot.
  • Remove the bony bump.

The goal of bunion surgery is to reduce pain associated with the deformity. Recovery from bunion surgery can be lengthy, so it is important to speak with a physician and investigate all treatment options before deciding to undergo surgery.

Burning Sensation

Burning feet, when feet feel painfully hot, is a condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It is especially common in diabetics and people over the age of 50. The symptoms may be mild or severe and can be indicative of everything from tired feet to a more serious medical condition, like neuropathy.

The most important aspect of treating burning feet is proper diagnosis of the underlying condition. Burning sensation in the feet is often a symptom of nerve damage and it requires immediate medical care.

Causes of a burning sensation

Burning sensation in the feet can be caused by many different factors. In some cases, it may simply be the result of fatigue. Sometimes feet just ache and burn at the end of a long day. Foot infections, like athlete’s foot, may also cause a burning sensation in the feet. More than likely, a persistent burning sensation is a symptom of nerve damage.

The most common causes of a burning sensation in the feet are:

  • Alcoholism.
  • Athlete’s foot.
  • Blood disorders.
  • Circulatory disorders.
  • Diabetic neuropathy.
  • Fatigue.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Metal poisoning.
  • Other foot conditions, including metatarsalgia or Morton’s neuroma.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
  • Underactive thyroid.
  • Vitamin deficiency.

Burning sensation treatment

The most important aspect of treating burning feet is to establish the cause of the symptom. Methods of diagnosis include:

  • Blood tests.
  • Nerve testing.
  • Physical examination.
  • X-rays.

A full battery of tests may need to be ordered to identify the source of the pain.

When a burning sensation in the feet is being caused by a local problem, it is easily treatable with medication or use of orthotics. If the burning sensation is a symptom of a more serious medical condition, your physician will discuss strategies to help manage the symptom while also addressing the underlying cause. Accurate diagnosis is essential to begin treatment.

Calluses

A callus is an area of thickened skin that develops on the soles of the feet. Calluses form to protect the skin from injury or damage caused by excessive pressure and friction.

Calluses are a natural defense mechanism; they help cushion the feet and allow people to function without discomfort. However, calluses can become very painful if left untreated. The best way to deal with calluses is to eliminate the source of pressure or friction that causes them to develop.

Causes of calluses

Calluses are caused by too much pressure concentrated on a specific area of the foot. The pressure stimulates the skin to thicken in order to protect itself.

Some of the causes of callus formation include:

  • Age (and subsequent loss of fat cushioning on the underside of the foot).
  • Flat feet.
  • Footwear that it too tight.
  • High arches.
  • Inappropriate footwear (narrow-toed and high-heeled shoes).
  • Misalignment of the metatarsal bones.
  • Obesity.
  • Overly long metatarsal bone.
  • Toe deformities.

Callus symptoms

A callus looks like a thickened area of skin with no distinct border. Calluses feel hard and dry and may or may not be painful to the touch.

At first, calluses may cause no discomfort. Over time, they can begin to cause painful symptoms, including difficulty walking and discomfort while wearing thin soled or high-heeled shoes. Eventually calluses can become discolored due to bleeding in the area beneath the thickened skin. If left untreated, the thickened skin can separate, leading to infection.

Callus treatment

Treatment of calluses should begin with a thorough diagnosis of the source of the pain. In most cases, calluses can be addressed with conservative measures like orthotics. Orthotics help keep weight evenly distributed when walking and running by taking pressure away from hot spots on the feet. This gives calluses plenty of time to heal.

It is best to avoid cutting or trimming calluses at home; this can lead to infection. Surgical treatment of calluses is always the last resort. If problems with calluses persist, see a physician to discuss possible solutions.

Corns

Corns are small mounds of dead skin that form near pressure points on the toes. Corns are essentially a type of highly concentrated callus. They are caused by friction and pressure; namely, from skin being pressed against bony areas or rubbed against shoes.

Corns have a hard, dense core that can press on tissue and sensitive nerves, causing severe pain. The best way to treat persistent corns is to address the cause of the pressure on the toes. Padding, ointments, and medicated pads can then be used to soften the corn and reduce pain.

Causes of corns

There are two types of corns: hard corns and soft corns. Hard corns are firm and dry; they tend to form on the upper surface of toes and are caused by pressure, usually from ill-fitting shoes. Soft corns are pliable and moist; they usually form between the fourth and fifth toes. Wearing shoes with a narrow toe box can cause toes to rub together, producing soft corns between the toes. People with arthritis and toe deformities like hammertoes are at a higher risk of developing corns.

Corn symptoms

Corns can be white, grey, or yellow. They resemble a cone-shaped growth pointing down into the skin. Hard corns appear thick and dry; they are usually located on the outer surface of the little toe or any pressure point where the skin rubs against shoes. Soft corns are usually light in color. They form between the toes and are kept soft due to moisture.

Corns may be painful and sensitive to the touch, especially if they are pressing down on nerves beneath the skin.

Corn treatment

To remove a corn, it is essential to treat the corn itself as well as address the underlying cause. One of the first things a podiatrist will recommend is a change in footwear. By avoiding high heels and other shoes with narrow toe boxes, it is possible to prevent corns from recurring.

Over-the-counter solutions are available to reduce pain from corns. Padding, or corn pads, can reduce friction on pressure points. Ointments and medicated pads can be used to soften corns and keep skin in good condition. People with diabetes or circulatory disease should never try to remove a corn on their own, the risk of infection is simply too high. Persistent corns should be treated by a doctor.

Foot Fungus

Many of us are familiar with the countless skin diseases and infections caused by bacteria and viruses; however, most people are unaware that there is another group of common skin infections caused by fungi.

One of the most common areas for fungal infections to develop is the feet. Fungal infections can be found in the surface layers of skin as well as the nails. The two most common types of fungal infections are Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus. These chronic fungal infections are most often seen in adults.

Causes of foot fungus

Fungi thrive in dark, moist environments. They can grow on the skin between toenails and spread to the toenails themselves. Fungal infections are usually picked up in public areas like locker rooms, swimming pools, and shower stalls. They can spread quickly among teammates and family members.

Certain people are at a higher risk of developing foot fungus, including those with diabetes, an abnormal skin PH level, or a compromised immune system. A prior injury to the nail bed can also increase the risk of fungal infection.

Foot fungus symptoms

Symptoms of fungal growth on the skin include:

  • Burning.
  • Cracked, bleeding skin.
  • Itching.
  • Redness.
  • Small blisters.
  • Stinging.

Symptoms of fungal growth in toenails include:

  • Changes in color (yellowing of nails).
  • Debris beneath the nails.
  • Foul odor.
  • Thickening of nails.
  • White spots on the nails.

Foot fungus treatment

Foot fungus is difficult to treat. The first part of treatment is designed to make the infected area less suitable for fungal growth. To this end, your doctor will advise you to:

  • Avoid cutting your toenails too short.
  • Change your socks frequently throughout the day.
  • Keep your feet as clean and dry as possible at all times.
  • Wear shoes that breathe.
  • Wear shower sandals in public areas.

The second stage of treatment involves battling the infection. Your doctor may recommend antifungal creams or washes. Serious cases of foot fungus are treated with a multi-week course of oral antifungal medication. Your doctor may need to remove part or all of an infected toenail to avoid re-infection of the feet.

Above all, it is important to continue treatment until all of the symptoms have disappeared.

Foot Odor

Persistent foot odor is an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition that affects people of all ages. Foot odor develops when feet perspire while wearing shoes. Bacteria that grow in the shoes and attach to the skin produce the unpleasant odor.

The dark, warm environment within shoes provides a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria and fungi that are responsible for foot odor. Fortunately, smelly feet can be controlled with a few basic preventative measures, including practicing good feet hygiene.

Causes of foot odor

Simply put, feet smell because we wear shoes, and our feet sweat. The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body, roughly 3,000 glands per square inch. When feet begin to sweat profusely in shoes, there is nowhere for the sweat to evaporate. Feet begin to smell as the perspiration interacts with the bacteria that live on our skin and in our shoes and socks.

People who sweat excessively are predisposed to developing foot odor. There are a number of factors that can lead to increased sweat production, including:

  • Certain prescription medications.
  • Condition known as hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Stress.

Foot odor treatment

The best way to address foot odor is to take the following preventative measures:

  • Alternate footwear so shoes can dry out between uses.
  • Avoid wearing closed shoes without socks.
  • Change moist socks as needed throughout the day.
  • Dust your feet with non-medicated foot powder.
  • Monitor your feet for signs of fungal infection.
  • Wash your feet daily in warm water with soap; make sure to dry feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • Wear shoes that breathe.
  • Wear thick, absorbent socks.

If preventative measures fail to eliminate foot odor, your podiatrist can prescribe stronger medication. Persistent foot odor may be a sign of an infection, so it is important to see a physician if odor does not go away with home treatment.

Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition that occurs when the corner or side of a toenail digs into the skin of the toe. The nail irritates the soft tissue of the toe, causing pain, redness, and inflammation.

Treatment of ingrown toenails can usually be performed at home. If ingrown toenails become extremely painful, a physician can remove the ingrown portion of the nail and prescribe antibiotics to address any infection.

Causes of ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails occur when the nail begins to grow into the skin of the toe, usually the big toe. There are a variety of factors that can lead to the development of an ingrown toenail, including the following:

Footwear - Shoes that are too small or too tight cause toes to compress together; this can result in abnormal nail development.

Fungal infections - Fungal nail infections can cause nails to become thicker and wider, making an ingrown nail likely to develop.

Genetics - If a member of your family consistently develops ingrown toenails, you are likely to develop them as well.

Injury - Any trauma or injury that damages the nail can lead to an ingrown toenail.

Nail trimming - One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is trimming nails too short or rounding nails (nails should be trimmed straight across).

Ingrown toenail symptoms

Ingrown toenails usually develop on the outer edge of the big toe; however, any toenail can become ingrown. Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:

  • Drainage of a yellowish fluid.
  • Extra skin growth around the corner of the nail.
  • Pain, redness, and swelling along one or both sides of the toenail.

Drainage of pus may indicate that an infection has developed. It is important to see a physician if the pain from the ingrown toenail becomes severe or if the infection seems to be growing.

Ingrown toenail treatment

When an ingrown toenail first develops, it can be treated at home. Soak your foot daily in warm water and massage the side of the nail to reduce inflammation. Avoid repeatedly trimming your toenail; this can actually cause ingrown toenails to worsen.

If pain persists or there are any signs of infection, see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics and elevate and clean the ingrown portion of the nail. If excess tissue has grown around the toenail your doctor may choose to remove the tissue to help the toe heal faster.

When ingrown toenails become a recurring problem, it may be necessary to remove part of the toenail and underlying tissue to prevent the nail from growing back malformed.

It is also important to know other ways you can prevent problems with your feet. Take an active role in your foot health by reviewing the following information:

Pedicures

A pedicure is a great way to pamper yourself and groom your feet; but be careful, pedicure infections are very easy to pick up if your salon does not practice proper hygiene. Health risks associated with pedicures include everything from fungal foot infections to bacterial skin infections and viral infections.

There are precautions you can take both before and after a pedicure to minimize your risk of infection.

Pedicure safety tips

Before baring your toes at your local nail salon, take a few easy steps to ensure foot safety:

  • Bring your own pedicure tools to reduce risk of contamination.
  • Do not allow the pedicurist to cut your cuticles.
  • Do not shave or wax your legs less than 24 hours before your appointment.
  • Make sure footbaths are drained and washed between clients.
  • Schedule your appointment as early as possible (pedicure tools and footbaths are cleanest at the beginning of the day).
  • Take a look around, does the salon look clean?

You should avoid having a pedicure if you have any cuts, bug bites, scratches, or scabs on your feet and legs.

After pedicure home care

To reduce your risk of infection, take the following steps after receiving a pedicure:

  • Apply moisturizer to the skin and margins of the nail.
  • Gently exfoliate dead skin.
  • Maintain a straight (not rounded) nail edge.
  • Push back, but do not trim cuticles.
  • Space your next pedicure apart by eight weeks.
  • Wash and soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes, this helps clean skin and nails.

When to see a doctor

It is important to be on guard for infection in the days and weeks following a pedicure.

Signs of a fungal infection include:

  • Discoloration of toenails.
  • Flaking of toenails.
  • Red, itchy skin between toes (this may be athlete’s foot).
  • Small indentations in toenails.
  • White spots in toenails.

Bacterial infections are all too common following a pedicure. One of the first symptoms of infection is small, red bumps that resemble insect bites. These are actually boils, and they can continue to grow in size, eventually producing pus.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of a foot infection following a pedicure, make sure to see a doctor right away. People with diabetes and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to pedicure infections and should see a physician immediately if they suspect something is wrong.

Proper Nutrition for Healthy Feet

Typically when discussing the benefits of proper nutrition, most people highlight improvements to heart health or a shrinking waistline. However, proper nutrition can also improve the health of your feet.

Effects of nutrition on feet

There are several medical conditions that affect foot health, many of which are affected by nutrition. Some of these conditions include:

  • Diabetes - can affect the circulation in your feet, cause a loss of feeling, and trigger diabetic neuropathy.
  • Inflammation - Some types of food (including foods with refined sugar and trans fats) can increase inflammation in your feet and even cause plantar fasciitis.
  • Obesity - The more you weigh the more force your feet have to bear. Obesity can lead to plantar fasciitis and heel pain. It can also worsen bunions and hammertoes.
  • Osteoporosis (weakened bones) - Bones weakened by osteoporosis are more susceptible to stress fractures and trauma-related breaks.
  • Poor circulation - Circulatory problems caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD), smoking, diabetes, and other conditions can create various problems with your feet and legs.

Tips for proper nutrition

Although proper nutrition alone may not prevent all of the above medical conditions from forming, it can be a vital part of achieving better health – including improved foot health.

Some tips to improve your overall foot health include:

  • Control blood sugar levels - If you suffer from diabetes, it is important to monitor and control your blood glucose levels. By keeping your diabetes in check, you can prevent symptoms and keep existing conditions from worsening.
  • Eat a healthy diet - By eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and rich in fruits and vegetables, you can decrease the risk of PAD, reduce inflammation, and lose weight. Be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor.
  • Exercise regularly - Although exercise is not a form of nutrition in the traditional sense, regular exercise can help "feed" your bones and minimize bone loss. Speak with your doctor to find an exercise program that will meet your specific needs.
  • Increase intake of calcium and vitamin D - By building stronger bones with daily vitamins and minerals, you can combat the onset of osteoporosis. Be sure to speak with your doctor about the proper intake of these vitamins as too many may not be healthy.

In addition to the above tips, you should monitor your foot health and visit your doctor if you begin to notice weakness, pain, numbness, or any other abnormal sensation in your feet. Catching foot problems in their early stages can help you reduce the likelihood of long-term adverse effects.

If you are unable to self-treat a foot condition or if the problem worsens, be sure to visit your doctor for treatment.