How to have healthy holiday feet

Your feet are arguably one of the hardest-working parts of your body, so here’s how to keep them looking and feeling great.

Have you ever stopped to think how important your feet are?

According to the College of Podiatry, the average adult takes between 4,000 and 6,000 steps a day – during the average lifetime this works out as the equivalent of walking five times around the earth. That’s a lot of work for a part of your body that you probably don’t think much about outside of the summer months.

Yet between 75 and 80 percent of adults have some sort of foot problem: hard, dry skin is the most common

problem, with blisters, athlete’s foot, ingrown toenails, corns, and calluses also affecting people in the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, 20 percent of people in this country believe their feet are the most unattractive part of their body.

Taking care of your feet, especially during the sandal-wearing season, doesn’t have to be a chore. Here’s what you should do to keep yours healthy and looking great…

Keep them fragrant

Basic hygiene can help care for your feet, especially if they tend to get sweaty during the summer. Wash them every night before you go to bed, using soap as well as water, as leaving dirt on your skin could lead to irritation and infection. After washing, dry your feet thoroughly and finish off with a foot cream to keep the skin moisturised.

If you have to wear socks during the summer months, change them every day, as this can help to reduce foot odour. Try to avoid socks made from man-made fibres, as they can make your feet sweaty. Go for cotton socks during the summer wherever possible (in winter, woollen socks are a good choice). In fact, it’s a good idea to go barefoot when it’s safe to do so, or to wear sandals without socks whenever you can, as it could help stop your feet getting hot and sweaty.

As for shoes, try to wear a variety of different pairs as opposed to the same pair of sandals every day, as it may help to prevent hard skin and cracked heels. Also choose sandals that offer some support to your feet, rather than constantly wearing flip-flops. And don’t forget, products such as shoe sprays and odour-control insoles are available at pharmacies to help prevent foot odour.

Make them soft

Corns, calluses and hard skin develop when the skin is exposed to pressure or friction, and can often cause discomfort when you walk. Plus, they don’t exactly look attractive.

The best way to keep them under control is to use a foot file, emery board or pumice stone to rub away the hard skin and to stop it becoming thick. Don’t try to cut out a corn or callus yourself – this is a job for a podiatrist (if you attempt it yourself, you could end up making things worse and possibly causing an infection). There are over-the-counter lotions you could try to help remove corns and calluses, but check with your podiatrist, doctor or pharmacist first, as they will be able to recommend the right product for you.

After using a foot file, emery board or pumice stone, don’t forget to moisturise your feet with a rich foot cream to make the skin even smoother.

Trim your nails

The College of Podiatry recommends cutting your toenails after a bath, because that’s when your toenails are softer. Trim your toenails regularly, using proper nail clippers, cutting them straight across (not at an angle) and not too short. Also don’t try to cut them down at the sides as it can lead to ingrown toenails. If it’s easier, use a nail file to keep your toenails neat.

If you do have any ingrown toenails, try to avoid letting them become infected by keeping your feet clean, changing your socks regularly and wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes.

Avoid infections

Check your feet regularly for the signs of foot or nail infections such as athlete’s foot, verrucas and fungal nail infections. Athlete’s foot and verruca infections are often caught in places like public swimming pool changing rooms and showers, so if you’re planning to go to any public pools, protect your feet by wearing pool sandals or flip flops when you’re in the changing rooms and walking to the pool.

If you have a foot or nail infection, there’s a variety of treatments available. Ask your pharmacist about products such as creams, sprays and powders for athlete’s foot, verucca treatments and products to treat fungal nail infections.

Massage and stretch

At the end of the day, refresh tired feet by massaging them with a foot roller or give yourself – or ask someone else to give you – a relaxing foot rub. Keep your feet supple by circling them from the ankles in both directions and by straightening and wriggling your toes.

The College of Podiatry also recommends raising, pointing and then curling your toes for five seconds each, repeating the whole thing 10 times. Or if you’re sitting at your desk, try drawing the alphabet with your feet (do one foot at a time).

 

Your local Careway pharmacy has lots of products that can help keep your feet in great shape this summer and year round. Find your nearest pharmacy here. If you need professional help, find a podiatrist at www.scpod.org aah