It is true many of us look after our health, from what we eat, to exercise and maintain an overall healthy routine. There is one part of our bodies we are all guilty of forgetting to look after, and that is our feet, especially after those long winter months where your feet rarely see the light of day! It’s really time to start taking care of those feet of yours. This all seems like a lot of bother for something you don’t really think about throughout the day, believe it or not, there are a lot of connections between our overall general health, and our feet! Yes, it’s true, with this guide we are going to explore into more detail the common foot problems that can occur, how to have a healthy foot care routine and what are the best options for you to look after your feet. So, let’s put our best foot forward (see what I did there?) and get started with our complete guide to foot care.
What is Footcare?
Footcare is the upkeep of your feet, from the toes, nails, heels, skin everything connected to your feet. Footcare should, in fact, be one of the main priorities in self-care, yet seems to be the first to be forgotten about, especially in the colder months. Maintaining a good foot care routine will not only have your feet looking their best but will give you a better chance of keeping hard skin, calluses, verruca and all those other concerns at bay!
The time it takes to complete a footcare is all dependant on your and how much time you have available and the number of products you use. It is very simple to keep a good routine, here are a few tips on basic foot care hygiene.
Cleaning your feet properly
Now, we don’t want to state the obvious, but washing your feet daily is always the best idea. By this, I don’t mean standing in the shower and letting your feet get wet with some left-over suds or shampoo. There is a lot of contact with bacteria and our feet so giving them a good clean is vital, especially with foot fungal infections thriving in warm, sweaty areas, such as in between your toes! Wash them and wear clean socks every day to avoid any unwanted infections.
Dry your feet properly
Keep your feet athlete’s foot free by ensuring you dry your feet properly after having a wash. Forgetting to dry away from any excess water, especially in between your toes as it is the perfect spot for bacterial infections to spread!
Cut your nails often
Many people find that the problems they experience with their feet, all begins with their nails. Infections in your toenails aren’t very difficult to treat are even not noticed, or even ignored altogether and in time will spread to other nails and perhaps have the nail fall away altogether, ouch! When cutting your toenails keep the clippers straight as cutting the outer corners too low can reveal vulnerable skin that infections thrive on and can cause ingrown toenails to start forming.
Remove hard skin
Yes, hard skin is not ideal to have when you want to wear sandals on a summer’s day. Not only does hard skin look bad, but it will also affect the way you walk, which then leads to a whole lot of problems! If you leave hard skin on your feet to get thicker and thicker it will result in you not walking or running properly. That then means problems with your knee, back and hips begin to develop, adding strain to your feet which causes certain areas to become sensitive and makes every step very painful.
Wearing the right footwear
Opting for the right footwear is a priority if you want healthy feet! Wearing heeled shoes and flip flops are fine occasionally, but wearing them, however gorgeous they are, is not the best idea! Do I need to remind you of bunions spotted on Victoria Beckham’s feet? Squeezing your poor toes into tight, heeled footwear will cause more trouble than they are worth, more on all that later!
Shoe shop in the afternoon
Our feet begin to swell in the afternoons, especially if you’ve been on your feet all day! It is because of this it is best to go shoe shopping in the afternoon to stop your new shoe feeling too tight!
That is an example of the very basic routine to foot care. There is, of course, the option to add a variety of foot scrubs and exfoliating treatment, foot masks and moisturisers, there’ll be more on those later. It is also not weather dependent, admittedly our feet gain our focus again when sandal weather is back. Winter is still a time to look after them due to the amount of time they spend in socks and closed shoes. Which are usually not very breathable and so the risk of athlete’s foot or fungal nail infections become more likely and can thrive and spread quicker.
It's amazing to think that a part of your body that is so easily ignored can, in fact, have a lot of problems occur if you don’t look after them properly, this section of the guide we are going to go into more depth of everything that can cause your feet some trouble. Brace yourself, you may start feeling a little queasy, but at least you will be clued up in everything feet, So, let’s dive right in!
Common foot problems and how to treat them
There’s no denying that foot problems can be a tad embarrassing, a lot, if not all of us are guilty of simply ignoring and hoping the problem will either disappear on its own or we just get used to having them. The funny part to all of this is that it’s never been easier to rid yourself of these problems with the number of products available either from a doctor’s prescription or over the counter treatments. Here are a number of common foot problems and how to treat them.
Sadly, this isn’t just a problem faced by marathon runners. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection which can occur from sweaty feet or from catching the infection from communal areas such as the gym etc. The fungus infection causes an inflamed rash on the skin around the toes. Unsightly yes, but there’s more, it can lead to peeling, burning and feel so itchy you will be tempted to chop your toes off, as graphic as that may sound. To top it all off, athlete’s foot can also cause some odour too.
How can I get rid of athlete’s foot?
It isn’t all doom and gloom and you’ll be relieved to know you won’t be stuck with athlete’s foot forever! Anti-fungal foot cream, gel or sprays should clear it all up in no longer than 2 weeks, remember athlete’s foot thrives in warm, moist areas so make sure you dry your feet and in between your toes properly and keep your socks clean. If you find the symptoms persist or worse than it’s best to seek medical advice!
Now this problem just isn’t fair sometimes, it occurs during a time we are finally able to have our feet out in those favourite flip flops, the downside, our feet are no longer protected in shoes and socks. With exposure to the harsh elements, this will end with them drying up and then cracking with the problem only getting worse as our heels need to stay supple to support our movements. Once the area is lacking the moisture it needs and left untreated the cracks will deepen and result in nasty infections!
How do I stop cracked heels happening?
If you spotted your heels are looking a little grey and dry looking, you’re in time to up the ante and start moisturising your feet (avoid in between your toes to stop any athlete’s foot) daily throughout the year, if you wear sandals regularly then try moisturising twice a day. This should keep your feet and heels looking beautiful if they happen to need a little extra TLC to opt for nourishing foot creams or foot masks to help restore them.
If you find it unbearably painful and finding it difficult to walk your best bet is to seek medical advice.
How to treat cracked heels
If you find your heels are beginning to look cracked, you are just In time to rescue them with a couple of easy steps. Use a loofah or foot scrub to rid your heels of any dry skin build-up and then apply a liberal amount of thick moisturiser.
If your feet have started to become very noticeably cracked then it’s time to use something that is going to pack a bit more of a punch. The Peel Away Foot Mask, now available on our website are two serum soaked socks that help with cracked, dry heels with a build-up of dead skin, not ideal for some summer sandals!
Popping the socks on for 60 to 90 minutes will give the powerful serum enough time to work away on the dry skin which you will find peels away relieving beautifully soft, new skin roughly 4 days after using them. Keeping your feet moisturised after using the foot masks will give your feet a new lease of life and cracked heels will be a thing of the past!
Once your cracked heels have begun to be very painful, bleeding or possibly look as though they have an infection, seek professional, medical help as soon as possible.
Tips on keeping cracked heels at bay all year
There are a number of tips on keeping cracked heels at bay all year long, not only do these keep your feet feeling comfortable, but you will also find they look a lot better too and the sudden panic of unveiling them to the world come summer time won’t be too traumatic.
- Moisturise your feet daily (avoiding your toes to stop infections such as athlete’s foot)
- Exfoliate your heels at least once a week before you have a bath
- Use a foot mask, such as the Peel Away Foot Mask once every couple of months to keep the build-up of the dead away and prevent your heels from cracking
- Give your feet some time to breathe, without any shoes and socks on whilst at home.
- Avoid walking for a long amount of time barefoot outside, especially on rough ground.
Trying out these tips throughout the year will help you maintain a pair of happy, healthy feet without any cracked heels to worry about either!
Verrucas are usually identified as small, flat bumps with a dark circle in the middle (which is a sign of visible blood vessels) found on the soles of your feet. To stop them from spreading to other areas of the body and to others it’s best to treat them as soon as you see them appear. Luckily, with the products available you won’t need to worry about verrucas outstaying their welcome!
How to banish verrucas
Much like athlete’s foot, verrucas love warm damp conditions. Communal areas such as gyms and swimming pools are verrucas playing fields! There are a few options for you to try to ensure you don’t get those pesky infections! First of all be wary when in areas previously mentioned, you can, by all means, wear a verruca sock to keep them at bay. But if you are too worried about your street credit, there are a number of anti-verruca gels and plasters to try. It’s best to decide on a product that contains salicylic acid, it’s a secret weapon when it comes to battling a verruca with it working away to gently remove the layers of the infected skin. Perfect for helping you to become verruca-free in no time!
Toenail fungus is quite a common problem and is a similar fungal infection to athlete’s foot that had been previously mentioned. It occurs when fungal spores get underneath your toenails and the skin under the nail bed and start to grow.
The first signs of a nail fungus are the discolouration of your toenails, admittedly never a good look and shouldn’t be ignored as eventually if left untreated the toenail fungus will cause your nail to grow thicker and then start to crumble, yep it really is as painful as it sounds!
Nail fungus only occurs mostly in your toenails due to your feet having more contact with the environmental areas that can become quite humid. This type of infection flourishes in those types of areas and is highly contagious. There are many ways you can pick it up by;
- Walking barefoot in communal areas, such as swimming pools, changing rooms and gyms
- Not keeping your feet clean
- Not drying into between your toes
- Wearing footwear that can cause your feet to become hot and sweaty
- Already having athlete’s foot can cause the infection to spread to your nails
How do I get rid of toenail fungus?
Much like the other foot problems, fungal nail infections love humid conditions! Maintaining a good basic footcare routine of having clean socks daily, taking care in communal areas and not swimming when you have broken skin will prevent you from catching toenail fungus infection. The treatments available vary from a selection of creams, gels and lacquers that you appeal topically onto the infected nail. These treatments will not only rid you of the unsightly infection but will prevent it from coming back. Of course, like all problems that become unmanageable, it’s best to seek medical advice.
We’ve all been there, found a pair of shoes that are just to die for and so you had pushed your feet into footwear too small and too narrow for them. Not only does your wince in pain not go with your outfit, but over time with the pressure of the shoes on your feet will result in bunions which look like large bumps on the right side of your feet causing the joint to become crooked and making your toes point in the wrong direction!
Can I get rid of bunions?
The good news is, yes you can rid of bunions, the bad news is that this foot problem can only be helped with surgery. This is of course, for extremely uncomfortable and painful bunions that won’t be helped with trying preventive pads or sleeves which are designed to reduce pain and from the bunion from becoming worse! Finding good fitting shoes that are comfortable and not too small is the best bet of remaining bunions free.
Corn is an area of thick skin that develops when there is a lot of pressure and friction to the sides of the feet and toes. You can find corns to be hard and soft with the hard corns usually found on the tops of your toes and side of your feet, soft is in between the toes, the warm, humid environment means they stay soft.
What can I do about Corns?
Much like any other concerns with our feet, corns are easily overlooked and generally just “lived with.” Considering that corn can develop into the deeper layers of the skin which when pressed, can cause a lot of pain. When corn is left untreated there is a feeling of a small ‘stone’ in your shoes, not very comfortable, yet so many of us live with it. There are some very simple at home treatments to try, corns have the ability to disappear over time and so changing your shoes, or spending more time barefoot when possible will help the corns to go away on their own. There are also cushions designed to help stop friction and discomfort. You can find these in many stores and Orthopaedic practice.
Why is it so important to look after my feet?
Feet and health go together without us even realising it. Our balance, the way we walk and run all comes down to how well we look after our hard-working feet. If they are aching from too much hard skin on the heel, or corns from tight shoes, the chances of you wanting to exercise are well, slim to none. Remember that hitting the gym or jogging around the block isn’t the only way to exercise. Something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, or jumping off the bus a couple of stops early are easily fitted into our daily routines. However, like I just mentioned, if your feet are aching, this just won’t happen.
The more the weight, the more pressure you have on your feet which in turn will have a snowball effect on your entire health. So, in a way of cutting a long story short, our feet are vital to keeping us as fit and healthy as we can be, and it’s about time we stop ignoring them!
At home foot scrub recipe
Sea salt and peppermint foot scrub recipe
This recipe is great if you have a lot of hard skin on your feet, particularly heels. The sea salt will work away any hard skin whilst the peppermint leaves your feet feeling fresh and smelling lovely! For this recipe you will need the following;
1 cup of coarse sea salt
1/3 of olive or almond oil
6 drops of pure peppermint essential oil
Saltwater (water with a handful of Epson salt)
In a bowl mix all the ingredients apart from the saltwater.
Next, immerse your feet in the water for 10-15 minutes, be sure the water is lukewarm and not too hot. This will soften any hard skin making it easier for it to be removed.
Pat dry your feet and then rub the mixture onto your feet in circular motions focusing on troublesome areas such as your heels. Rinse off the scrub and there you have it, beautiful feet.
Brown sugar foot scrub recipe
If you wanted a scrub that was a bit more gentle for the skin, brown sugar is a lot more fine and softer than salt and will gently exfoliate the feet and lock in hours of moisture! To try out this recipe you will need;
½ cup of brown sugar
½ of any liquid oil (could be almond, olive, or melted coconut oil which you like best)
Simply mix the ingredients together well until you have seen the brown sugar has partly dissolved. Then you can apply the scrub to your feet working on heels first, rinse mixture away and you are left with extremely moisturised feet!
Treatments available for foot care
There is a wide selection of treatments available for foot care, all of which help to benefit the foot in different ways. For example, if it is just the nails you want looking after, a monthly trip to your beautician will give you the option to have a pedicure. These can vary in prices and services provided from a simple file and paint to a full massage, scrub, nail varnish, hard skin removal and there some even allow you to wear heated booties that make it look as though you can take a trip to the moon.
As relaxing as these will be, they won’t help with all foot care problems you may experience such as a verruca, fungal nail, athlete’s foot.
For those problems, it’s best to visit a specialist, be it chiropodist or podiatrist who will treat them in their clinics with a large selection of great performing products. Alternatively, you can visit these clinics to purchase these products for yourself and try them at home. Foot problems such as corn removals, however, must be performed by trained professionals and shouldn’t be tried at home.
Finally, with foot concerns such as bunions that have become too deformed and extremely uncomfortable or painful need medical attention as soon as possible and surgery is, unfortunately, the only solution to combating extreme bunions.
This guide was intended to help you understand the importance of how a good foot care routine is vital to an of overall good health. We have all got into the habit of forgetting about our feet whilst in the middle of winter, tucked out of the way hidden in cosy socks and boots. Once the sun starts to come out and the complete panic sets in, and the idea of bearing our toes to the daylight is all we think about!
With such an extensive topic as foot care, we didn’t wish to overwhelm you and so instead chose common problems we can all experience with our feet and explain it all in better detail.
If, however you find you are suffering from something that is painful or unusual, please don’t take the usual mindset of ignoring it in the hopes it will go away on its own. Visit a medical professional or foot care specialist as soon as possible.
FAQ on footcare
Why does my heel crack so badly?
Cracked heels are a result of lack of moisture, the heel of our feet have to remain soft and supply to allow us to walk and move properly and comfortably. Moisturising your feet daily (avoiding getting any in between your toes and this will encourage fungal infections) will give your feet much needed hydration.
Is soaking your feet bad for you?
Soaking your feet in a mixture of Epson salts and warm water is a great prep for removing the dead skin with a pumice stone. It isn’t advisable to soak your feet whilst you are suffering from foot problems such as verrucas and fungal nail infections as it will encourage the infection to your other toes and feet. After soaking your feet remember to dry your feet properly between the toes and allow the feet to breathe without socks on if you can.
Why do diabetics have to be careful with their feet?
Having diabetes means you are at a higher risk of developing foot problems. This is because of the raised blood sugar levels they suffer from which can lead to damaged sensation to the feet. Cuts and sores will take longer to heal and cramping in the feet and legs happen regularly.
How can you tell if you have a verruca?
You will find a verruca is painful when it is pinched. It can be uncomfortable if it happens to be on a weight bearing of the foot, but it can be quite unnoticeable, however, shouldn’t be left untreated. You will find the verruca will look like a lump with a black dot in its centre. The black dot is the ends of blood vessels
How can a corn be removed?
The top of the corn will turn white, this is when it is able to remove the dead skin by having It cut or filled away. Following this treatment, you can soak your feet and rub the area with a pumice stone to make it smooth again. Corn removals should not be tried at home.
Can a bunion go way on its own?
There are such things are bunion cushions, straps and sleeves available to wear to make the pain of a bunion more bearable, sadly a bunion will not go away on its own and will only worsen in time if you continue to wear the footwear causing the problem. If you spot a small bunion beginning to develop you can stop it from getting bigger if you change your shoes. To completely remove a bunion the only option will be to have corrective surgery.
Should I wear socks to bed if I have athlete’s foot?
Having clean feet and wearing clean socks daily is the best way to stop the infection from spreading. It’s best not to wear socks all of the time, so at bedtime let of those toes of yours have some air!
Is having hard skin on your feet bad?
Hard skin on your feet, especially on your heels if left to worsen will start affecting how you walk and run, this can then lead to a huge number of related problems such as the knee, hip and back problems. Grab an exfoliating foot mask or pumice stone to get rid of the problem before it gets worse!
Is it bad to cut your nails too short?
It’s important to trim your toenails regularly, keeping them too long will become painful when they start pressing up against your shoes and socks. When trimming your toenails cut the nail straight, cutting the nail in a curved shape and too short on the sides will result in ingrown toenails and fungal infections.