Nearly everyone experiences foot problems at some point. Blisters, cracked skin, fungal infections, warts, and sore muscles are common problems; fortunately, they’re usually problems you can avoid with a little extra TLC.
In honor of National Foot Health Awareness Month, Harbor Community Health Centers is dedicating this post to better foot health, with tips aimed at helping patients in San Pedro, California, kick foot problems to the curb. Providing a full range of podiatry treatments to patients of all ages, here’s what our team wants you to know about keeping your feet healthy.
There’s no doubt sore feet can take a huge toll on your comfort and put a cramp in your fun. But the impact of foot problems can be a lot more far-reaching.
When your feet hurt, you avoid placing pressure on the sore parts. Even a simple change in your gait can put extra strain on other areas of your feet, knees, hips, and even your back.
Other times, foot problems can be a symptom of another underlying medical problem. Diabetes is a good example.
Diabetes affects your feet in a couple of crucial ways. First, diabetes damages your nerves, so if you cut your foot or have another injury, you might not even feel it. Care can be delayed when you don’t know you have a sore, increasing your risk of developing an infection.
Second, uncontrolled diabetes impairs your circulation, so it can take much longer for sores to heal. Taken together, delayed care and impaired healing can cause diabetic foot ulcers, a serious infection that can lead to lower limb amputation. That’s why if you have diabetes, regular foot care at home and in our office is essential.
Caring for your feet doesn’t need to be difficult, especially if you incorporate these simple tips.
Examine your feet daily for signs of injury or other unusual changes, like cracked or peeling skin. Even a minor issue, like a blister, can increase your risk of an infection, including an athlete’s foot.
You should also wash your feet daily. Dry well afterward— even between your toes. Apply moisturizer, but not between your toes.
Shoes are designed to protect your feet and provide critical support. If you wear shoes that are too small or don’t fit in other ways, you’re leaving yourself open to injuries. It’s also important to select shoes designed specifically for any activities you enjoy, including walking and running. Replace shoes that are getting worn — typically about every six months for shoes you regularly wear for exercise.
Socks provide essential protection from friction and an additional barrier against bacteria and fungi. Choose socks that “breathe,” and make sure they’re not too tight around your feet or ankles. Carry an extra pair with you to change socks if they become damp.
Going shoeless might seem like one of the pleasures of warm weather, but if you go without hoes, your feet go without protection. While it’s always a good idea to wear shoes outside, you should also wear them in public areas, like locker rooms, gyms, and pools, where fungal infections are common.
Painting your toenails isn’t bad, but it’s important to skip the polish occasionally. It can help support toenail health and make it easier to look for any nail changes that could indicate a fungal infection. Clear toenails also make it possible to see areas of discoloration under the nail that could be a sign of skin cancer.
Speaking of toenails, trim them regularly and always cut straight across the nail instead of curving around the end of the toe. Straight cuts help prevent ingrown toenails. Soften the edges of the nail with a file if needed.
Slathering sunscreen on your feet, toes, and ankles protects them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Always apply sunscreen when wearing sandals or going barefoot, and reapply it during the day to replace sunscreen worn off by sweat or water activities.
Don’t let foot problems keep you from enjoying life to its fullest. If you have any type of problem with your feet or if you need to schedule a diabetic foot exam, call 310-547-0202 to schedule an appointment with the team at Harbor Community Health Centers today.