Good hygiene goes a long way toward preventing common foot problems.
When you think about where they travel on any given day, it’s no surprise they get dirty. Going barefoot, wearing soggy shoes and socks, and washing them as an afterthought invites problems. Limited and painful mobility is only one price you pay. Poor foot hygiene contributes to fungal and bacterial infections that spread to other parts of the body. People with diabetes or circulatory diseases lose toes, legs and even lives to these infections.
Do your feet a favor and take a little extra time to get to know them. Daily inspections help you notice when something is wrong. The sooner you recognize and address them, the easier it is to control foot and toe issues. Keep your feet clean but look beyond obvious grime and:
- Be alert to sensory changes. Numbness, pain or the absence of any sensation at all might indicate a nerve problem.
- Examine all parts of each foot for cracked skin, sores, blisters or bumps.
- Check carefully between your toes for redness and itchy spots.
- Look at each nail for discoloration, spots, cracks or any other deformities.
- Note temperature differences and hair loss—these might indicate circulatory problems.
If you find anything that concerns you, see your healthcare provider or doctor of podiatry medicine.
Make basic foot hygiene a part of your daily bath ritual. Using a mild soap, wash them every day in lukewarm water. Be sure and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes. Apply a mild lotion specifically designed to keep your feet moisturized. In addition:
- Don’t go barefoot, especially in public places.
- Change into clean socks at least once daily, more frequently if they get wet. Synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from the skin are best.
- To promote drying, rotate your shoes so that you wear a different pair from day-to-day.
- Keep shoes clean—inside and out.
- Trim toenails right after bath time.
- Sanitize all pedicure tools with alcohol.
- Trim straight across the nail and don’t cut the corners. Use an emery board to file sharp edges.
- Don’t apply polish to discolored toenails.
Clean your feet better than just giving them a quick scrub. Give them a good daily look, wash them properly and get regular pedicures. And always make sure to see a doctor for early treatment of foot problems.