The Importance of Foot Health

While you may already focus on your overall health and general wellness, have you ever considered spending more time on keeping your feet healthy?

According to estimates from the College of Podiatry in London, the average person will walk a total of 150,000 miles throughout their lifetime. Despite this, foot health is often less of a priority when it comes to general health.

Most Americans will experience a form of foot ailment at some point in their lives. However, most of these conditions are entirely preventable by committing to routine visits with your doctor, wearing appropriate footwear and keeping your feet clean and dry.

Therefore, it is important to learn more about the foot conditions that can arise from poor footwear and poor hygiene, as well as symptoms and treatment options if you are already experiencing a foot-related ailment. With a bit of know-how, you can reduce the likelihood that you will experience a foot-related injury or ailment.

For a Healthy Foot, Start with Your Shoes

One of the most important steps that you can take to ensure good foot health is wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes. When purchasing shoes, it is a good idea to ensure:

  • That the ball of your foot fits comfortably within the widest part of the shoe.
  • Your toes are not rubbing against the top or front of the shoe.
  • There is about half an inch between your longest toe and the front of your shoe.
  • That your feet are not rubbing against the shoe or slipping around inside of the shoe when walking.

Keep in mind that many people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other. This is not something that should be ignored. If you have one foot that is bigger than the other, make sure that you acquire different sizes of shoes or have shoes tailored to the appropriate size.

Inspect your shoes before wearing them, as shoes do break down from wear and tear. It is strongly recommended that you replace your shoes when they begin to break down. While some shoes can be fixed, keep an eye out for cracking and tears.

If you enjoy wearing heels, it is important that you wear this type of footwear sparingly as constant use of heels can be harsh on your feet, leading to unhealthy feet and various foot-related conditions.

All in all, having “good shoes” is incredibly important, no matter how active you are. In fact, poor footwear can lead to a number of problems, including the following:

  • Corns.
  • Calluses.
  • Ingrown toenails.
  • Irritation.
  • Bunions.

Keep Your Feet Dry and Clean

No matter your level of activity, it is important that you keep your feet both clean and dry. Therefore, after completing any vigorous exercise or taking a shower, take the time to make sure that your feet are clean and dry. If you have calluses, consider a pumice stone to gently soften your skin. However, it is not recommended that you remove calluses through the use of foot peelers or shavers, as these items can cause damage to your feet, especially if you suffer from certain conditions such as poor circulation or diabetes.

Visit Your Doctor with Foot Related Concerns

Never ignore sudden abnormalities in your feet as these symptoms could point to a condition or disorder that is likely treatable. Issues may worsen if you do not seek treatment. Therefore, it is important to visit your doctor for any of the following problems:

  • Foot swelling.
  • Foot discoloration.
  • Persistent foot pain.
  • An unusual odor coming from your feet.

Additionally, it is important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing an ingrown toenail. If you try to take care of an ingrown toenail yourself, you may cause further damage your foot and worsen the situation.

If you are a diabetic, it is important to have your feet regularly checked by your primary physician. Diabetes is a generally manageable disease, but it can lead to neuropathy. Neuropathy can lead to a variety of foot problems, including gangrene toes, which will require amputation if not caught quickly enough.

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Athlete’s Foot: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Athlete’s foot is a highly contagious fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. While most cases are mild at first, this fungal infection can spread quickly, bringing pain, discomfort and significant itching. Once contracted, the fungus can spread to other areas of the body.

This form of skin infection occurs most commonly after walking in damp areas. Therefore, it is most common at gyms, showers and at community pools. Since the fungus is highly contagious, sharing shoes or pedicure tools can spread of the infection from one individual to another.

If you contract athlete’s foot, antifungal treatments are available at most drugstores. However, if the infection is severe or has already spread, you will need to visit your doctor in order to obtain prescription medication.

Bunions: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A bunion is an abnormality that develops on the joint of the large toe, which can in turn cause your big toe to turn inward. While women are statistically more likely to develop bunions then men, the reason does not lie solely within genetic factors.

Improper footwear, especially footwear that is too narrow, can cause bunions to develop. This is due to the fact that the pressure from narrow shoes can damage the metatarsophalangeal joint.

Depending on how far the ailment has progressed, treatment options may be available. Your doctor may be able to prescribe custom-made shoes or splints for your big toe that can help straighten it. For more serious bunions, surgery may be required. Therefore, it is important to find comfortable fitting shoes before bunions become a problem, especially if you have a family history of this condition.

Diabetic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Many individuals who suffer from diabetes may develop diabetic neuropathy at some point in their lives. This disease is caused by high blood sugar levels and is marked by significant damage to nerves, especially the nerves in the feet. Other risk factors include a history of tobacco use, alcoholism or a family history of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy does not always present itself as pain. Rather, numbness or a tingling sensation can also be a red flag for this disorder. Left untreated, this illness could result in various foot problems, including gangrene and, ultimately, amputation of one or more toes.

Ingrown Toenails: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

An ingrown toenail is relatively common, but it can become very painful. It occurs when your toenail begins to grow into the nail groove. The most common reason for an ingrown toe is wearing poor footwear, especially if your shoes are too narrow for your feet. The added pressure from your shoes can ultimately lead to this condition. In addition to poor footwear, poor hygiene can also be the culprit. It is imperative that you trim your toenails on a regular basis.

Treatment generally includes the removal of a portion of your toenail, which can be safely performed by your doctor, as well as antibiotics in the event of an infection.

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