SUMMER is when feet have their moment in the sun. They’re a part of the body that really get put through their paces – literally - so treat your trotters to some regular TLC...
FOOTCARE BASICS: Regular footcare can help keep this vital part of the body healthy in the long-term, potentially preventing complications like painful calluses and even ulcers, a particular concern for people with diabetes.
“If you don’t keep it in check, hard skin can build up on the parts of your feet where there’s a lot of pressure, such as where shoes or socks rub,” says Joanne Carey, pharmacist and skin health specialist.
“If an area of hard skin builds up, the skin underneath is put under more pressure, causing damage to the tissues.
"Eventually this pressure can cause a wound to form under the hard skin, which is why it’s important to prevent hard skin forming in the first place.”
BUNIONS: Far more than just a callous or hard, swollen skin, bunions are a bony deformity of the big toe joint.. They’re not just unsightly but can be very painful and affect walking.
“While bunions can be genetic and run in families, they are very often also caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes that put a strain on the bones and muscles in your feet,”says Dr Pippa Bennett, sports and exercise physician.
Mild bunions might not require any treatment, but ensuring footwear is appropriate could help. Bunion pads and orthotics can provide relief if they’re causing discomfort and, in more severe cases, surgery may be required.
FUNGAL NAIL INFECTION: Characterised by thick, discoloured nails, fungal nail infections rarely cause serious problems, but they can be very unsightly and uncomfortable — sometimes painful too.
“Fungal nail infections usually develop after some sort of injury to the nail or skin around the nail, or following a bout of athlete’s foot,” explains Joanne Carey.
“In mild cases, treatment isn’t always necessary, the infection may just grow out in time — however, there’s a chance the infection could spread to other nails.”
Antifungal nail paints are available from pharmacies and, in severe cases, your GP may prescribe antifungal tablets.
Carey also advises keeping feet clean, avoiding footwear that makes your feet sweaty, and try to keep nails short. “Discard of clippings carefully to avoid spreading infection,” she adds.
PAINFUL FEET: “One of the most common types of foot pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of tissue under your heel.
"This can be caused by being on your feet for long periods of time, particularly if you’re not used to it, wearing shoes with poor support, or if you are overweight and therefore putting extra strain on your heel,” explains Dr Bennett.
“Another common form of pain is Morton’s neuroma, which is a swelling of a nerve in the foot causing pain on the base of the toes or the ball of the foot.
"This again can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, but other foot problems, like bunions, are also thought to have an impact.”
As a first step, consider whether you can address the cause of the pain – if you do have to spend long periods on your feet, make sure you take regular rests and that footwear is suitable.
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