It is a new year, and we ought to be thankful for life. With a new year should come new things, though I’m certain many of you spent loads on Christmas festivities, and are now working out accessories for Carnival, or for the planned fetes. Remember, though, that we are in a recession, so spend your pennies wisely.
Typically, people make new year’s resolutions; to lose weight, to take care of themselves health wise, etc. Oft times, before this is put into practice, it falls by the wayside. Then the ‘broke’ excuses will come, with Christmas, Carnival, and the recession being blamed. While you need to spend wisely, it’s important to remember the health of your body too, especially your feet, which are critical.
- – Inspect your feet regularly, paying attention to colour and temperature changes.
- – Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes; be sure to dry them completely.
- – Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides, it can lead to ingrown toenails.
- – Look for thick or discoloured nails (a sign of developing fungus).
- – Check for cracks/cuts in the skin.
- – Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet could indicate Athlete’s Foot.
- – Any growth on the foot is not considered normal.
- – Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should be careful when treating their own feet – they are
more prone to infection.
- – Ensure your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest, and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.
- – Select and wear the right shoe for the corresponding activity (e.g. running shoes for running).
- – Alternate shoes, don’t wear the same pair every day.
- – Avoid walking barefooted. Your feet will be more prone to injury and infection.
- – Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments. Self-treatment can often turn a minor problem into a major one.
- – If you are a diabetic, contact your podiatrist and schedule a check-up at least once a year; if uncontrolled, more frequently.
- – Don’t ignore foot pain. It’s not normal. If the pain persists, contact your podiatrist or GP.
Now we’ll get more specific with the execution of the varied basic tasks.
Nails are softer and easier to cut after bathing. Wash the feet with soap and water to remove dirt and germs from the skin. It is important that everyone should have their own nail clippers/ nippers, foot, and nail files.
If skin on the feet and heels is dry and sensitive, a non-perfumed moisturising cream is recommended, one with urea or lanolin is better. Care should be taken to keep the skin around the heels in good condition, to prevent pressure sores or dry cracks /splits/ fissures occurring in the skin, which could become infected. Place a small amount of cream in the palm of both hands, and with small circular movements of your thumbs, massage the cream into extra dry or tender areas. Avoid the spaces between the toes, as this could lead to Athlete’s foot. Getting down may be difficult for some, speak with your podiatrist on your next visit, to find the most suitable way to get it done, given your specific issues.
General Foot Care Information
Clean socks and stockings should be worn daily and checked for fit. These should be the same size as the foot, without stretching. After washing, dry the feet carefully and check between the toes. If there is excessive sweating, or if the toes are deformed or clenched tightly together, moisture can become trapped between the toes, and they may be prone to picking up fungal infections (Athlete’s foot). The skin can look white and macerated (soggy). A cotton bud can be used to clean or dry between the toes. A folded tissue or stream of cool air from a hairdryer can also help with drying. Avoid splitting the skin by parting the toes carefully.
Surgical spirit is recommended daily for in between toes until the skin returns to normal. This will help to dry the skin and prevent splits (fissures) and infections. Do not use surgical spirits if it ‘stings’. Moisturising cream and talcum powder are not recommended as the moisturising cream can over-soften the skin, and talcum powder tends to ‘cake’, holds moisture, and harbour germs.
A foot massage with either moisturising cream or oils will keep the skin in good condition; help the circulation; help to prevent pressure sores; and present a barrier against infection. Receiving a smooth gentle massage can be very comforting and relaxing, and aids in relieving stress. If you suffer with hypertension, know your readings, or have the therapist check before commencing.
Daily foot exercises
Foot exercises are easy to do; twice daily is recommended, or more often, if a person is sitting or lying for long periods. Draw imaginary circles in the air with both feet, clockwise and anticlockwise. Lift the toes towards you and then point away from you. Spread the toes apart and then clench them. Holding on to a chair, stand on tiptoe, and then go back onto heels. These will help to aid joint mobility, tone foot and leg muscles, improve circulation, and help relieve swelling. If suffering with a heart condition, other major health conditions, or issues with balance, consult your GP and also inform the massage therapist.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!