“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin franklin coined this advice to remind Philadelphians about the dangers of house fires. It is an enduring slogan because it applies to nearly everything – your feet included!
Poor foot care can lead to serious health issues. Not all foot conditions are preventable, but there is much you can do to avoid trouble. Here are just some of the most common health problems that can be avoided through proper foot care!
The Wrong Shoes Can Cause Injuries
Everyone would like to wear their Gucci loafers at all times, but wearing the right shoes for walking, running and sports can help you avoid serious foot injuries. Wearing poor-fitting sneakers can cause hip, knee and back pain, and may also put you at greater risk of developing Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.
When it comes to selecting the right sneakers for walking or running, nothing helps better than going to the store to try them on in person. It is best to try on sneakers toward the end of the day, as that will provide the most accurate fit. Leave a thumb’s width in front of your big toe, and make sure the shoes do not pinch your feet or slide around while you walk. If you have wide or narrow feet, keep this in mind as you look for specially sized options.
Occasional play in regular running shoes is okay, but specialized sports shoes generally offer more support and protection to the serious athlete’s feet.
Pedicures Can Cause Disease
A pedicure at a nail salon can be a nice treat. Unfortunately, this leisure activity comes with a heightened risk of contracting diseases including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, MRSA and athlete’s foot, and foot baths are known to breed a rare, harmful bacteria known as M. fortuitum.
Take a few steps to minimize your risk of contracting a disease while getting a pedicure, including:
- Avoid having your cuticles cut
- Request a square cut for your toe nails
- Bring in your own nail polish to prevent cross-contamination
- Don’t apply polish to nails which could have a fungal infection
- Don’t let the beautician shave off dead skin and calluses with a razor
- Make sure the work station and the beautician’s hands are both sanitized
- Don’t receive a pedicure if you have an open wound or sore on or near your foot
- Schedule your pedicure first thing in the morning when the foot baths are typically cleanest
- Make sure the salon sterilizes their tools in between clients; better yet, bring in your own tools from home
Flip-Flops and Going Barefoot Can Cause Problems
Flip-flops are a fun summer fashion, but they are not suitable for walking longer than 15 minutes. Flip-flops expose their wearer to potentially harmful bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as a higher risk of injury. They also provide poor support, which puts the wearer at higher risk of metatarsalgia and bursitis. Flip-flop wearers frequently suffer from blisters in the sensitive areas between their toes!
We wouldn’t like to imagine a world where no one goes barefoot at the beach, but do take extra caution around public beaches where hot cigarette butts, broken glass and torn aluminum cans may be buried just beneath the sand. Make sure to apply sunscreen to your bare feet as well! They are vulnerable to several types of skin cancer.
If you like to wade into the water au naturel while you fish, we would urge you to consider wearing water shoes instead. The last angler to visit your favorite spot may have dropped a treble hook for you to step on, and slip and fall injuries are common around water.
Poorly Managed Diabetes Can Require Amputation
People living with diabetes are at greater risk of developing foot problems. One of the most common diabetic injuries is foot ulcers. These may not heal quickly or at all, although they may quickly become infected – especially if the patient has lower extremity arterial disease. Over 80% of amputations began as foot ulcers!
Diabetics often suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which may dull the sensation of pain in the feet. If you have diabetes, it is recommended that you visually inspect your feet for scratches, blisters, cuts and ingrown toenails every day.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends many other foot care guidelines for diabetics, including:
- Maintain nails carefully
- Consult a doctor for corns and calluses
- Never use a heating pad or hot water bottle
- Do not apply moisturizer between your toes
- Gently bathe your feet, but never with hot water
- Wear clean, dry socks – preferably ones made for diabetics
Make Plans to Visit a Podiatrist
Treatment for many chronic health conditions should include at least one visit to the podiatrist every year. These include diabetes, bunion, and eczema or arthritis of the foot. Other types of health conditions, such as plantar warts and osteoarthritis, may be treated during more frequent visits with your podiatrist.
If you are healthy but have noticed numbness in one foot, nagging heel pain, persistent athlete’s foot, or any other unusual pain or blemish around your feet, then a visit to the podiatrist could be worth a pound of cure indeed.
You can always find the podiatrists of Twin Cities Foot & Ankle Clinic at our Golden Valley and Woodbury, Minnesota clinics. We welcome you to contact us today!