We’re here to help you with injuries and conditions afflicting your lower extremities. But many of the problems we treat can be avoided if you simply take good care of your feet. Here are a few simple tips for healthy feet maintenance that might help you stay out of the podiatrist’s office for a while:
Clean your feet regularly
When they’re standing in the shower, many people don’t feel like bending all the way down to scrub their feet. But your feet need to be scrubbed with soap and water just like the rest of you; maybe even more.
Keep your feet dry
After washing, be sure to dry your feet thoroughly. Damp, warm feet are just the sort of place where fungus can grow. Choose footwear that will allow your feet to breathe. Remember that socks made of synthetic fibers tend to eliminate moisture better than cotton or wool.
Care for your toenails properly
Trim your toenails straight across with a pair of toenail clippers. Avoid trimming too close to the skin or rounding the corners of the nails, which can cause ingrown toenails. Don’t try to cover up toenail discoloration, cracks, or crumbling with nail polish; those could be signs of a fungal infection or other conditions, and applying nail polish could aggravate the problem.
Use caution in public areas
Gyms, locker rooms, public pools, and the showers associated with them—and any other damp, warm place where people often go barefoot—are common breeding grounds for fungal infections. Be sure to wear shower shoes or flip-flops in such areas. Avoid sharing shoes or socks with other people.
Choose proper footwear
Always be sure that your footwear fits your foot properly, with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, solid heel. Shop for shoes at the end of the day, to ensure that your shoes can accommodate the slight swelling that your feet will experience by evening. Make sure that the socks or hosiery you wear when you try on shoes in the store are the same sorts you’ll be wearing with the shoes normally.
When purchasing shoes for sporting activities, make sure to get a shoe well-suited to the sport. For example, a running shoe is built to accommodate impact, while a tennis shoe is made to give relatively more support and permit sudden stops and turns. “Cross trainers” are fine for a general athletic shoe, such as for physical education classes. But if an athlete is involved more heavily in any single sport, he or she should have a shoe specifically designed for that sport.
Know when to call your podiatrist
Check your feet regularly for persistent pain, redness, discolorations, scaling, cracking, swelling, ingrown toenails, and other problems. Don’t attempt to self-treat problems—check with an expert first.