Our feet are easy to take for granted. They move us throughout the day and take on hundreds of pounds of impact daily by just walking. It is important to know how to care for your feet and how to look for signs of change as your feet can often show early signs of decreased circulation, brittle bones, and more concerning health conditions. Foot care doesn’t need to be expensive or done in a salon. Spending a few minutes every day on foot and nail care can help to ensure your feet stay healthy–all within the comfort of your own home. These ideas can help you give your feet the support they’ve been giving you!
Wash Your Feet Regularly
We recommend washing your feet and between the toes daily with a washcloth and soap. If you can’t balance safely while showering, you can sit outside the tub or on a stool. Afterward, be sure to dry your feet completely, including between the toes. This regular washing and drying system will reduce your chances of developing athlete’s foot and other bacterial and fungal infections that thrive in moisture-rich environments.
Check Your Feet and Nails
Checking your nails once a week can prevent them from becoming too long. Long nails can cut into adjoining toes and can lead to infection. Long nails can also push into footwear causing pressure to build on the nail plate which may lead to the development of corns and calluses underneath the nail. We recommend patients cut their toenails once a week or every other week to avoid any of these conditions.
It is also important to check your feet regularly. Look for signs of infection, cuts, redness, or swelling. If you notice anything abnormal or a sign of injury and infection, contact your podiatrist for a thorough examination and accurate diagnosis.
How To Trim Your Nails
It is best to trim your nails after a shower, bath, or foot soak as the moisture helps to make the nails softer. Remove any polish before clipping so that you can inspect your nails properly and check for signs of ingrown nails, infection, or hangnails. Use a non-acetone polish remover as polish removers containing acetone may be too harsh and lead to brittle or thinning nails. Giving your nails a break from polish now and then can help to allow the nails to breathe and avoid discoloration.
Ensure your pedicure tools are clean before each use. When trimming your nails, use a toenail clipper with a straight edge so that you can cut your nails straight across and no longer than the tip of your toe. A straight cut will help to reduce your risk of ingrown nails. If necessary, you can file the edges into a rounded shape, but do not cut the edges with a clipper. File in one direction without placing too much pressure on the nail.
If your nails are thickened and discolored, it may be a sign of a fungal infection that may need to be assessed by your podiatrist. Also, if you notice signs of an ingrown nail, do not try to treat it on your own, instead, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist for proper treatment.
Do not cut, push, or poke at your cuticles as they serve as a protective layer to keep infection away from your nail bed.
Smooth Away Roughness
If you have calluses, corns, or rough areas on your feet it is important to soak your feet for at least 15-20 minutes before attempting to buff them away. The soak will soften the thick layers of skin on your feet. The water should be warm, but not hot as hot water will cause your skin to dry out.
After softening your skin, use a pumice stone, emery board, or callus file to gently smooth away the dead skin. It may take a few weeks of doing this consistently to remove dead skin on thicker areas such as the bottom of the heels or balls of the feet. Do not use a callus shaver or razor as this can cut your skin, damage your feet, and lead to infection or a more serious injury.
Remember To Moisturize
Moisturize your feet after your foot care routine. During the dry winter months, you may want to moisturize your feet multiple times throughout the day. Lotions and foot creams will help to trap in excess moisture from the shower ensuring softer, hydrated skin. Treat your feet to a massage as you rub the lotion into your feet paying special attention to the arches of your feet. You can apply lotion to your feet and heels, but avoid putting lotion between your toes as the excess moisture may increase your risk for infection.
Ensure your feet look as great as they feel with these foot and nail care tips. Our podiatrists are experts in the management and treatment of various foot ailments and conditions. Don’t wait for pain and discomfort to visit our office. If needed, we are more than happy to assist you with foot and nail care. For more information on foot and nail care or to schedule an appointment, contact Martha P. Aponte, DPM today.