Summer is well underway and amidst all the outings, events and social gatherings you are likely attending, you may be finding it hard to find time for yourself. It is important in any season to take time to focus on self care, which includes caring for your feet as well. Taking a little extra time to ensure your feet are well taken care of will get you through this season and the ones to come!
Foot care is an important part of overall health care. If not done right, foot complications can arise and people definitely don’t want those! One way to ensure that you are taking good care of your feet is to educate yourself. Foot care is not very complicated and in fact can be done as a part of your regular daily routine. Here are a few tips for self foot care:
Wash your feet often. Keep your feet clean by washing them every day in warm, soapy water. While doing this, check if there are any red areas or sores on your feet. This is especially important if you have diabetes. There are changes that take place in your feet that you need to watch for every day in order to avoid those nasty complications that come from this disease! For more on how diabetes affects feet, read our blog article on the topic.
Dry your feet well. Dry your feet thoroughly after washing them, especially between the toes. Bacterial and fungal infections like athlete’s foot can develop in between the toes and drying the feet is an important way to keep from developing these conditions.
Moisturize and file. If your skin is dry, apply moisturising cream all over the foot, except between the toes. If you put lotion between the toes, it can help developing infections or other problems between the toes. Gently remove hard skin and calluses with a pumice stone or foot file. Do this when the foot is dry if you have diabetes and not after you have washed or soaked your feet. Work with the pumice in only one direction. If you rub in both directions, you could overdo it and cause soreness or ulcers in or around the calluses. You could also damage fresh skin underneath.
Cut toenails carefully. Cut your toenails straight across and never rounded, at an angle or down the edges. Make sure that the edge of the toenail is sitting on the edge of the toe past the nail bed. Cutting the toenails too short or improperly can cause ingrown toenails. Trim your toenails regularly using proper nail clippers. Seek the help of an expert if you have trouble doing this on your own.
Shoe shop in the afternoon. Have you been eyeing a new pair of sandals for awhile? Remember to buy them in the afternoon. Your feet can swell as the day goes on and if your shoes fit in the afternoon when you are active and doing activities, you can be assured they will fit correctly and be comfortable all day long. Be sure that the shoes fit the shape of your feet. When you take the insole out of the shoe and stand on it, no part of your foot should hang over the side of the insole. You will want to see about a thumb thickness beyond the longest toe for general wear. (When you walk, the foot expands. If the shoe is too short, your foot could rub against the end and be uncomfortable or cause and injury.)
Protect your feet in communal areas! Wearing flip-flops or pool shoes will help you avoid getting athlete’s foot and other foot infections when using public areas such as gym showers or swimming pools. Having said that, take care with flip-flops! Don’t wear flip-flops all the time. They don’t provide enough support for your feet and can lead to arch and heel pain if you wear them too much.
Wear appropriate footwear at work. Depending on the type of work you do, you may need to wear specialized occupational footwear with features like hard reinforced toecaps or anti-slip soles. If you wear high heels at work, don’t wear heels more than 2.5” high because the shoes need to be comfortable to work in. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes on your way to work and change into your heels when you get there. A note about high heels: You should limit your time wearing high heels because they can damage the feet if worn regularly. It is better to wear them just for special occasions. If you need to wear heels, try to vary the height of the heel.
Change socks daily. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Changing your socks daily reduces smells that are caused by bacteria and other organisms that are on the feet. If you are live with diabetes, this is important because it reduces the chances of getting an infection. As well, look for socks made of cotton-polyester blend and have extra fibres to wick moisture away from the foot while you wear them. The correct sock allows your feet to breathe and help keep them at the right temperature. Wear socks that fit you as well. If you get socks with a narrow elastic band at the top, it can promote swelling in the foot. If you have diabetes, getting a seamless sock will be better for you because there is no seam to irritate the toes or the end of the foot.
Your local Pedorthist can give you more advice on caring for your feet, and because Pedorthists take a team approach to our patients’ health care, if something is out of our scope, we can recommend another type of specialist to see. A little self foot care can go a long way and will offer many benefits to help keep you active, on your feet, and enjoying life!
For more information on foot care, visit https://www.pedorthic.ca/foot-health/
By Jim Pattison, B.Sc, C. Ped (C)
- Rao Li; Li Yuan; Xiao-Hui Guo; Qing-Qing Lou; Fang Zhaod; Li Shen; Ming-XiaZhang; Zi-LinSung 2014 “The current status of foot self-care knowledge, behaviours, and analysis of influencing factors in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus in China” International Journal of Nursing Sciences Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2014, Pages 266-271
- Siti Khuzaimah Ahmad Sharon; Hejar Abdul Rahman; Halimatus Sakdiah Minhat; Sazlina Shariff Ghazali; Mohd Hanafi Azman Ong A self-efficacy education programme on foot self-care behaviour among older patients with diabetes in a public long-term care institution, Malaysia: a Quasi-experimental Pilot Study https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/6/e014393
- NHS ND “Tips on foot care” https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/tips-on-foot-care/