Do-It-Yourself Foot Care

Suggestions to resolve common foot problems. Page still in construction, but open for viewing.

Daily Steps for Healthy Feet

Drying out your shoes is the first step. It takes at least 24 hours for shoes to dry out from normal wear, so shoe/boot dryers are helpful if you don't have a pair to rotate. The best protocol is to use a boot dryer for 90-120 minutes after a day's use and  have two pairs that you can rotate.

Wearing wicking socks is also important, or even changing your socks during the day. Socks made with synthetic materials will wick away moisture better than cotton or wool. If you get sweaty feet and don't want an anti-perspirant, consider toe socks to avoid skin-to-skin contact.

Nightly foot hygiene - remove the dirt and sweat from the day. With a soft bristled toothbrush and soap and water: brush the nails, nail grooves, fronts of nails, between the toes, and under the toes. Use a damp wash cloth on the rest of your foot with attention to areas with dead skin and calluses/corns. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Use a mildly acidic lotion (e.g. Aveeno, Eucerin, Cetaphil, Cerave), which will hydrate the skin and make dead skin easier to exfoliate. If you have a lot of dry, dead skin build up, consider using a file before washing (e.g. diamond grit fileemery board, or 220 grit sand paper). Skin is a lot like wood: you want to only sand the dry areas. If you sand wet areas, it comes off in chucks and takes good skin with it. You also want to be careful of dust and avoid breathing it in.

Personal use recommendations: My aunt from Tennessee gave me some skin care items from a place called Simplici Soap Factory. I find one in particular that makes a huge difference to skin hydration: Simplci Body Butter - No Scent Added. It's made with mango butter, which I've never tried before this. The ingredients also include argon oil, jojoba oil & vitamin E. Follow the foot hygiene steps listed above, but instead of the lotion (which is evidenced based), try out this body butter if lotion isn't working. It is solid and needs to be warmed in your hands - it's a little extra maintenance, but it really helps with dead, dry, excess skin build up.

Warnings:

Do not put moisturizers (i.e. emollients or humectants) on wet/white/waterlogged skin (i.e. macerated skin). Those areas need to dry out. Place a dry cotton ball between your affected toes at night to improve air circulation (commonly between the last two little toes (4th and 5th) there's a deep pocket that holds onto moisture - seen with men mostly).

DO NOT SOAK YOUR FEET. 

1. Cracks (i.e. fissures). Soaking and removing natural oils can further dry out the thick, hardened skin. Your skin may crack and bleed, which has the potential of getting infected.

2. Waterlogged skin (i.e. maceration). You don't want to cause waterlogged skin, which inhibits your natural skin barrier and leads to infection. If you have macerated skin, it must be dried out and protected from friction. Avoid keeping macerated skin in a warm, moist environment with lots of friction (e.g. going on a long walk in your usual walking shoes). Dry the area out first and let the skin heal. 

3. Soaking in stagnant water introduces bacteria and fungus to cracked and waterlogged skin. Normal showering with constantly running, clean water is best for cleansing.

Calluses and Corns

Calluses and corns are caused by pressure and friction - those elements need to be resolved to stop the calluses and corns from forming.

 

1. Avoid walking barefoot on floors or in shoes. Not only does this cause pressure and friction, but it can also cause a sharp injury if you step on something while walking barefoot inside or outside.

 

2. Wear well fitting socks (not loose socks or super tight socks).

 

3. Wear pressure relief inserts in your shoes and change ever 4-6 months. Plantar fat pads protect your toes, balls on your feet (metatarsal heads), and heels. Pressure on those fat pads will restrict blood flow to the fat cells and they may shrink (atrophy) and die, leaving you with bone to skin contact. The fat pads may be replaced by corns and calluses, which is an added hard-layer of pain. The additional pressure can lead to ulcers, infection, and amputation. Please change your inserts when they lose their cushion (i.e. bottom out).

 

4. Wear properly fitted shoes:

Take the insert out of your shoe for inspection:

a. Do your toe imprints all fit on the shoe? If not, your need either a wider toe box or longer shoes.

b. To support the findings on #1, place the insert on the floor and step on it while standing. Does your foot spill over in other places? A professional shoe fitter at a specialty store for running/walking or orthotic shoes can help you find the right fit. Please accept the opinion if it is to size up more than what you're used to. It may also be helpful to go from a wide-width-shorter-shoe to a normal-width-longer-shoe for more toe room. Wide shoes accommodate the midfoot more than the forefoot. Square shaped feet need a square, wide toe box, or a very long tapered toe box.