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Health Topics
Foot Care

There are some complaints which are very common in feet and can be avoided by wearing suitable shoes and following a regular foot care routine. These include ingrown toenails, bunions, callouses, corns and athlete’s foot. It is important to buy shoes that fit well and to carefully wash and dry the feet.

The best time to buy shoes is in the evening because the pressure on the feet from supporting the body will have flattened the feet during the day. Sometimes the feet also swell during the day. Shoes that are too tight may restrict the circulation causing great discomfort in the feet. Most people also have one foot bigger than the other. It is important that people know which foot is bigger and that they buy shoes that fit both feet comfortably.

Feet need a daily routine to have a well groomed appearance. A firm brush can be used during a shower to scrub the soles and the nails of the feet. It is a good idea to apply a moisturising cream to the feet when they are dry. Toenails should be clipped, cut straight across with a scissors or filed regularly to prevent nails from becoming too long or growing into the sides of the toe creating ingrown toenails.

Feet are subjected to very harsh treatment during the day. A vibrating pillow or a foot bath is a good way to care for the feet after a hard day. Smelly feet are another common problem. This can be caused by wearing plastic shoes, not washing regularly, wearing synthetic socks or is sometimes hereditary.
Foot powder and insole odour eaters can help to lessen the smell or a few teaspoonfuls of bicarbonate of soda in the shoes can also help.

A bunion is a large bump or protrusion along the big toe joint on the inside of the foot. It is caused by the spreading of two foot bones. Shoes put pressure on bunions causing swelling, redness, irritation and pain at the joint. Bunions are caused by instability of the joint at the base of the big toe which may be the result of the way we walk, the shoes we were or our inherited foot type. Specially made shoe inserts can help reduce stresses on the joint and reduce pain.

Anti-inflammatories may also help and in some cases surgery may be suggested to reposition the bones and realign the joint.
Heel pain is usually caused by abnormalities in the way we walk which place stress on the heel bone and the surrounding tissues. Heel spurs are bony growths on the underside of the heel bone which occur when muscles, ligaments, tissues or membranes of the foot are strained, stretched or torn. These are caused by running, jogging, poorly fitting or overused shoes or obesity. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It is associated with heel pain and heel spurs. It is usually caused by unsupportive footwear and is common in athletes who run and jump a lot. Treatment of these conditions may include oral or injected anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy, taping or strapping of the foot and the use of orthotic devices in the shoes. Sometimes surgery is required.

Morton’s neuroma is an enlarged nerve between the third and fourth toes. It can be caused by flat feet or by wearing high heeled shoes that are narrow at the toes. Padding and taping may be used to treat this along with arch supports, anti-inflammatories and orthotics.

Callouses are thickenings in the surface layer of the skin produced by the body in response to the pressure placed on a certain part of the foot. Corns may develop if the pressure becomes concentrated in a small area. The treatment for these involves removing hard skin and the core of the corn. Plantar warts are warts on the bottom of the foot. They are usually hard and flat with a rough surface and are often grey or brown with a centre of one or more black pinpoints. These warts are caused by a virus that enters the skin through small cuts. Treatment of the warts may include a wart-removal preparation or a simple surgical procedure performed under local anaesthetic.

People with diabetes are particularly susceptible to problems with their feet. Polyneuropathy is a complication of diabetes that results in nerve fibre damage leading to diminished sensation. This means that a person with diabetes may not feel the pain associated with an injury to the foot and may develop ulceration or infection as a result. Peripheral vascular disease in the arterial vessels of the legs can also impair wound healing in the foot area.

There are many products available at the Pharmacy to help with foot care. These include antifungal creams and powders to treat tinea (athlete’s foot), insoles, cracked heel creams, foot moisturisers, odour sprays, pumice stones, foot scrapers, orange cuticle sticks, fungal nail infection treatments, bunion pads, corn removers and essential oils which can be added to foot baths. The Staff will be happy to advise you and help you choose the product that will best help alleviate your condition.

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© Copyright 2021 Chambers + Pharmacy,
Kevin McCormack B.Sc. Pharm. MPSI