Step Into The Sunshine
Summer has arrived and it's just glorious! For many of us it brings the dread of baring our neglected toenails, cracked heels or blisters that just seem to linger. We spoke with our very own podiatrist and top foot health expert Jennie Hayes to learn how and why we should be tackling some of our foot problems. She advises that with the right type of treatment and a few simple tweaks to our at home foot care routine, we can all look forward to welcoming in the sandal season ...
Stop Callous In It's Track
Calluses can become a problem if you don't keep on top of them. Callus is an area of thickened, hard skin on the feet commonly found around the heel area and ball of your foot. It can occur as a result of friction or pressure from inappropriate footwear, a bony prominence or a particular style of walking. If you regularly get calluses on your feet, I would recommend filing with an emery-type foot file once or twice a week and applying a foot moisturiser daily after you shower. If a file does not do the trick for you, I would recommend you visit a podiatrist who will be able to safely and painlessly remove the callus build up with a scalpel.
When buying foot cream, check the ingredients to ensure it contains the key ingredient, urea. Great for soothing dry feet as it helps penetrate the deeper layers of the skin giving maximum softness and hydration.
Don't Treat At Home, Visit A Podiatrist For These
Unlike callus which can safely be managed at home, hard corns are best treated by a professional. Caused by pressure or friction over bony areas, such as joints, they have a central core which may cause pain if it presses on a nerve.
Your podiatrist can safely and painlessly remove your corn using a scalpel providing instant relief for most people. Your podiatrist will also assess your feet and lifestyle to see why you have developed a corn and give you advice on how to reduce the risk of them recurring. I don't recommend using medicated corn plasters as they contain acid that can burn the skin causing a wound.
Never Ignore This
A very common issue I see in clinic is fungal nail and quite often the patient has had this for a while and just ignored it. Don't ignore the problem, seek the advice of a podiatrist or visit your GP as soon as you suspect you may have fungal nail. Your podiatrist can recommend a suitable at home treatment such as anti-fungal nail lacquers – but it’s worth noting these can take up to a year or more to work as it can take this long for the nail to grow out fully. Alternatively, your GP may prescribe oral medications.
Whilst cuticles are not treated as part of a podiatry treatment session, I recommend using a cuticle oil or serum to keep them conditioned and healthy. Do not cut them as this can result in damage or a break in the skin, which in turn can lead to infection.
Go Easy With The Foot Cream
Foot cream is an essential part of your foot care routine but be careful not to apply too much! Over application can result in a build up between the toes which can result in maceration and unwanted infections, like athletes’ foot. If you feel you have cream in between your toes just run a towel through them to make sure they are completely dry.
Treating Ingrown Toenails
Another common problem I see in clinic. They can occur as a result of not cutting your toenails properly or cutting them too low down at the sides. When cutting your nails ensure you cut straight, never down at the sides, and file smooth. Ingrown toenails can also be a genetic issue, or they can be caused from the pressure of tight footwear, socks or can be the result of trauma to the foot.
Never pick at an ingrown toenail as this can result in infection around the area. Visit your podiatrist who will be able to advise and treat the problem. In mild cases they will be able to remove the offending spike there and then, a sterile dressing will then be applied to protect the area. In some cases you may need to undergo a minor surgical procedure (Partial or Full Nail Avulsion) under local anaesthetic. Either the edge of the nail (Partial Nail Avulsion) or the full nail (Full Nail Avulsion) will be removed, and the chemical phenol is then applied to prevent the nail from re-growing and causing any more problems.
Waterproof Plasters Work Best
Blisters are fluid filled lesions which occur as the result of pressure and friction. They are often caused by ill-fitting footwear, sporting activities or a because of a foot deformity. Apply some padding to cushion the area, a breathable waterproof plaster can help protect them from further irritation. Blisters usually clear up in three to seven days however, if you have diabetes and they are not healing easily it can be more of a concern. I would recommend you seek the advice of a professional.
The skin on our feet can become dehydrate in the summer months, this is because we often have our feet exposed to the elements in sandals. This can result in cracked heels and dry, flaky skin. If you have a lot of walking to do, I advise you try wearing good-fitting, supportive footwear with a cushioned sole, this will provide you with better shock absorbency and keep your feet well protected and supported. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important for our overall health, including the health of our feet. After a long day on your feet, it's good to give your feet a soak in some warm water before applying your favourite hydrating foot cream - your worn out feet are sure to appreciate this!