Feet...Do I really need to look after them?
Hopefully you won't be surprised by the one word answer...YES!!
I often get surprised looks when asking clients about their foot care routine.
Let's face it, for those of us living in countries like England, the majority of our year is spent in enclosed footwear. So when do you ever really look at your feet?
EVERY DAY should be the answer.
Don't worry, this isn't another fad beauty trend you'll lose interest in after spending 3 months religiously following and spending a small fortune (we've all done it, and regretted it!).
Looking after your feet is in fact REALLY important! And should be implemented from infancy.
(Top Tip for parents: Implementing tasks 1 - 5 will help children get used to you handling their feet from a very young age = a MUCH easier life when cutting nails!)
Teaching good routines and habits will pay off in later life. It's a podiatry promise!
Problems with the feet can't always be prevented. Many things such as genetics, footwear, activity, lifestyle, overall health can be linked to problems with the feet. So it's impossible to promise a complete avoidance of issues. HOWEVER; we can look after our feet as much as possible, and learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of potential issues, so that intervention can be provided asap.
I often tell my clients, as long as you have the routine, I don't care which part of the day you do it in. as long as it gets done! Fit it in to the part of the day which works best for you, whether that be morning, evening or even lunch time - just get it done!
So what should your daily foot care routine be?
1. Check your feet!
Checking your feet daily gives you the chance to really look at them. Learn the shape of your feet, toes, nails and the skin on them. Do you have any bony prominences, moles, freckles which you should be keeping an eye on? Has anything new appeared? (anything from hard skin patches, swelling, redness, discolouration of nails or skin, or has there been a change in shape of the foot,) are there any cuts, bruises, wounds or blisters?
2. Clean your feet properly!
Feet spend the majority of their time in footwear. That's a dark, warm moist environment that's perfect for growing things such as fungus and verrucae. Washing your feet in the morning and the evening is best, particularly if you do lots of sports, or you are prone to 'sweaty feet' (tip: Everyones feet sweat a lot!)
Footwear materials often cause further issues, including sweaty, smelly feet!
There's plenty of foot soaks on the market which you can do a relaxing foot soak with, should you have the time. But making sure you take the time to gently wash the soles of the feet and between the toes when you are having your normal shower is absolutely fine too! You can't go too wrong with a gentle salt water wash either (pop 2 teaspoons of salt in to a shallow bath/foot bath and gently wash the feet and between the toes).
3. Dry your feet properly!
Drying the feet is SO SO important! If you take the time to do anything in your morning rush, it's got to be this!
Dampness between the toes can lead to issues such as athletes foot, further fungal infections, soft corns, wounds and more.
Using a thick towel can be uncomfortable to use between the toes, so we recommend getting a thin small towel/flannel to use specifically for the feet (you could also use a square of kitchen roll if preferred).
4. Moisturise your feet!
Moisturising your feet is just as important as moisturising the face.....but probably much cheaper!
You want to use a moisturiser specifically for the feet, and here's why. The skin on the sole of the feet is much thicker than the skin on the rest of the body - after all, your feet bear 3x the body's weight with every step they take. Your feet therefore need a cream that can penetrate through the thicker layers of skin AND hydrate the excessive dryness on them!
In general, we recommend using a cream specifically for the feet and to ensure it has the ingredient urea in it. Use a cream that contains at least 10% urea (this is what really makes the difference for the feet!)
IMPORTANT: avoid applying moisturiser BETWEEN the toes. This can lead to excessive moisture in an already moist area, resulting in the potential for issues such as athletes foot.
5. Be kind to your feet
Chose natural materials for your shoes and socks. Avoid wearing shoes without socks, and change shoes daily. Try to give your shoes 12 - 24 hours to dry out after wearing (not just from the rain, from your sweat too!)
6. File your feet
If you have dry feet use a foot file once or twice per month to remove any excess dead skin cells (always do this on a dry foot for best and safest results!)
And as always; if you notice any changes or concerns in your feet and legs, seek advice sooner rather than later. Don't be the person that keeps hiding away the problem and only seeks advice once it's become a far more complicated issue. Remember! Prevention is better than cure (and far more wallet friendly!)