Often I have to ask well-groomed male patients I see why they don’t maintain their feet. Typically they indicate that showering and cutting their toenails constitute maintenance and can’t comprehend why I expect more from them. What about moisturising the feet? Cream…”no I don’t use that”; “well I use it when I remember”; or a popular one…”that is woman thing”. I must say though, the men that do take care of their feet represent quite well.
Taking care of the feet is actually quite manageable. For those that can’t be bothered with handling the monthly maintenance yourself, have it done professionally. After all, nobody likes looking at horrible feet. Rough skin, bad odour, and ugly nails are big turn-offs; ask anyone. Keep your feet in great form with these foot care tips.
Let’s Nail This
Your toenails should always be cut neatly, straight across, not curving the corners. Don’t cut too much off, the nail should be the same level with the end of each toe. If your nails are hard or thickened try soaking them in warm water, Epsom salts and a few drops of peppermint oil for ten to fifteen minutes before cutting to make the process easier. Use a nail file to take the sharp edges off.
The Heels Have It
Don’t be that male that has those unappealing dry, achy looking or cracked heels. You know that callus build up around the heels that forms a crust? It is so evident when you are wearing a nice slipper or sandal where the feet are on display. Not a good look so some filing and moisturising is required here. If it has been months since you last cared for those feet you may need some professional intervention. If this is the case book an appointment with a podiatrist to debride those callused feet or get a pedicure done if it is basic maintenance required.
Soften those Soles
No it isn’t a female thing, more females may practice it than males however, it is something that we should all do. Cause after all, we all have skin that needs hydrating not so? It is also a way to have the feet looking good. More importantly, moisturising is the perfect way to prevent tiny cracks and fissures appearing in the skin around the heels, cracks (heel fissures) that don’t just look unsightly but which can become painful and prone to infection. Apply your moisturiser immediately after showering to maximize moisture absorption and prevent dry skin. If you already suffer from dry patches, moisturising your feet twice a day can dramatically improve their appearance.
Wash between your toes. A lot of guys don’t pay much attention to their feet, even in the shower. The area between your toes traps dirt easily and is a breeding ground for bacteria; athlete’s foot may develop if you don’t regularly clean between your toes. Wash all over your feet to keep them clean and reduce your risk of foot hygiene problems; ensure you dry between the toes properly. Also, change socks daily as this counts as undergarment and stores bacteria as well.
Fungal infections can present in the form of surface fungus, toenail fungus or tinea pedis (athlete’s foot). Surface fungus presents like peeling on the heel of the feet whilst athlete’s foot can begin with the peeling between the toes, reddened or it presents as a fuzzy white or green build up. It can also present with itchiness and an odour may emanate as well. The most common fungal problem is the fungal toenails. Not only do they cause discoloured, flaky and sometimes smelly toenails, but they’re also notoriously tricky to treat as it takes a lengthy timeframe to go away.
The problem (known as Onychomycosis or mycotic nails) often starts as a small white or yellow spot under the nail and progresses to affect the whole of the nail, causing it to thicken or crumble as the fungus munches its way through the keratin that makes up the toenail. Sometimes the nail may also have a hollow (semi-detached) presentation.
Patience is key as it can take months or as much as a year for your nail to get back to normal. To minimise the risk of fungal nail infections keep your feet dry don’t walk barefoot in the gym, locker room or around the swimming pool. It is equally important to sanitize your footwear.
Treat your Feet
The same way you would shop for an item of clothing, a shoe, a gadget, “shop” for a podiatrist or pedicurist according to your needs. Don’t be embarrassed, that’s what they are there for, to make your feet better. Along with manicures, pedicures are the most useful and least scary treatments available for men. Your feet will certainly thank you for it. As will everyone along the way that catches a glimpse of them. As a podiatrist I see a number of men for varied problems so make in a part of your routine.
Many men love their shoes just as much as their female counterparts. If you are into shoes ensure that you shop for appropriate styles. Fashion does not constitute health and comfort. Think of the health of your feet first! Inappropriate foot wear (shoes that are too narrow to the front or are hard on the feet) are not a good idea. A wide toe box area and comfort are supposed to be your top priority.
Rough skin on your feet is sometimes as a result of wearing shoes that are too tight. The tightness creates friction that can contribute to calluses. Your feet need space so get shoes that fit properly and have soft padding to reduce your risk of calluses, corns and bunions. You should also be using shoes that are appropriate for whatever activity you’re doing. For example, you shouldn’t be wearing regular sneakers when you’re going hiking unless you’re asking to get hurt.
See a podiatrist as you can benefit from the professional advice given. This is especially true if you notice signs of infection, or any other lower limb/foot problem.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!