Dressed up, dressed down, propped up or running around town, feet bear the brunt of our hectic lives. Take care to make sure you have healthy feet that stay at their best at all times. Enjoy our top 10 tips for healthy feet.
1. Wash your feet in warm water every day
Make sure the water is not too hot by testing the temperature with your elbow. Try not to soak your feet, but if you do, do not soak them for more than three to four minutes. Soaking causes macerated skin, which breaks down more easily and doesn’t heal well. Also, dry your feet well, especially between your toes.
2. Check your feet every day
Look for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses or other possible injury and signs of excessive rubbing or pressure from shoes. Checking every day is even more important if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow. If you cannot bend over or pull your feet up to check them, use a mirror. If you cannot see well, ask someone else to check your feet. Contact your physician immediately if any of these signs are found.
3. If your skin is dry, rub lotion on your feet after you wash and dry them
Do not put lotion between your toes, but do lubricate the entire foot. Suitable lubricants include olive oil, any vegetable oil, vitamin E oil, emu oil, mink oil and emulsified lanolin.
Many oils and lotions that contain products as major ingredients are available commercially. Do not use petroleum jelly (Vaseline), mineral oil or baby oil.
These products are not absorbed by the skin. The exception to this would be if you swim regularly for exercise. Before getting in the water, rub petroleum jelly on your feet to protect them from the water.
After leaving the water, remove the petroleum jelly with a towel. If the skin of your feet is dry, your cardiologist should try to avoid medicines called beta blockers for hypertension or heart disease, as these can inhibit perspiration that moistens the feet.
4. Cut your toenails regularly
Ideally, your podiatrist will be the one to do this for you in order to be as safe as possible. If you do choose to do it yourself, cut the toenails when they are soft from washing.
Shape them to your toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board. Do not trim your toenails if you cannot see them clearly.
Ask a friend or relative, podiatrist, or your physician to do this for you. If you have thickened toenails, ask your physician to have clippings tested for fungal infection.
5. Do not attempt to file down, remove, or shave calluses or corns
The toughened skin of a callus is the body’s way of protecting against irritation, such as by a shoe that rubs your foot. Filing it off removes that protection, and is often the initial cause of foot ulcers and resultant amputations.
If calluses are present, show them to your physician. Ask him/her or a podiatrist to arrange for your shoes to be stretched, prescribe special shoes or prescribe orthotic inserts.
Your physician may instruct you in the use of a shoe stretcher or a “ball and ring,” both of which can be ordered by a shoe repair shop. By eliminating the pressure on your foot, the callus should resolve over time.
6. Never walk barefoot
We know you want to tiptoe through the tulips, but the reward may not be worth the risk to your healthy feet. Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries.
Make sure your shoes fit well. In the warm weather, don’t wear sandals with thongs between the toes. In the cold weather, wear warm socks and shoes of adequate size. And try to alternate at least two different pairs of shoes every few days. It is wise for all people with diabetes to have the circulation in their feet measured every few years. If circulation is impaired, do not remain in the cold for more than 20 minutes at a time.
7. Always wear socks or stockings to avoid blisters
Avoid wearing socks or knee-high stockings that fit so tight below your knee that they cause visible depressions in the skin. Avoid using garters. Don’t wear socks with holes or those that have been darned, have thick seams or are so large that they bunch up.
8. Before putting your shoes on, check inside
Feel the insides to make sure they have no sharp edges or objects that might injure your feet. Inspect your shoes daily for foreign objects, torn lining, protruding nails or bumps. Have them repaired if you find any of these.
9. Do not smoke cigarettes
Yes, this relates to your feet. Nicotine can cause closure of the valves that permit blood to enter the small vessels and nourish the skin. The result? Neuropathy, or nerve damage.
10. Keep your doctor in the loop
Call your physician immediately if you experience any injury to your foot. Even a minor foot injury can be an emergency, so don’t procrastinate.
With some routine care and diligence, you can have healthy feet for a lifetime. Read all about other common foot conditions, causes and treatments here.
1. Bernstein, Dr. Richard. Dr. Bernsteins Diabetes Solution, Revised and Updated The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Diabetes and Foot Problems.” (18, July 30). Retrieved: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/foot-problems