The Importance of Foot Health

Our feet are one of the most used but abused parts of our body. They take us where we want to go, lugging our weight around for miles and miles, up and down, every day. But many people tend to ignore the importance of foot health until problems set in.

The main culprit, really, is ignorance. Too many people simply do not know how to care for their feet.

Foot care actually has a lot to do with common sense, except when the problem is caused by a medical condition, like diabetic foot problems. But ignore your feet and you do risk infections and diseases that can be quite serious.

Fashion can be really bad for foot health.

How many women have endured blisters and bunions on feet squeezed painfully into sky-high heels? Or men with a penchant for pointy foot wear. You’d be surprised how many foot problems can be avoided simply by choosing good, practical footwear. Choose shoes with round toes and keep heels as low as possible. Anything above three inches can be hell on the ball of the foot. For flat feet, choose shoes with good arch supports.

One of the most common problems is, of course, athletes foot. It is caused by the fungus Trichophyton, which enjoys feet that are hot and sweaty, thus, its name. Left untreated, it attacks the upper layer of the skin, causing itchiness and a burning situation, or even bleeding. When infection sets in, blisters called bullous tinea pedis result.

Athletes foot can be avoided by washing your feet and drying them thoroughly, and using shoes made of materials that “breathe,” like leather. Foot powder helps a lot, too. If you do get it, use anti-fungal cream, never topical steroids, which allow the fungus to multiply. A household remedy is to soak the foot in a solution of one part vinegar and four parts water.

Clipping your toenails is a simple enough foot health maintenance job. But it should be done properly or you could end up with wounds that easily get infected or, worse, ingrown nails that will have to be treated surgically. And never try to camouflage cracked or discolored nails with polish. It could make the problem worse.

If you run for exercise, you put a lot of strain on your feet. A common problem is heel pain, which is usually caused by plantar fasciitis. Overdoing your routine can lead to tendonitis as well. Toe pain is usually caused by running shoes that are too small. Blisters often develop or your nails can turn black or even fall off.

Another common foot problem is calluses on feet, which are caused by friction between your feet and your shoes and cause the skin, usually the soles, to thicken. Warts, too, which are caused by a virus, can grow on the feet.

You will no doubt hear about supposedly successful home remedies for common foot ailments. Be careful though, because many of these will only worsen the problem. If in doubt, it is best to see a foot health professional.

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