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Your feet bear the whole weight of your body throughout the day, enduring large amounts of force and pressure. They are often subject to tight shoes, high heels, tight socks, and dirt, adding to the problems.
It is common for people to neglect foot care, often not practicing proper hygiene and wearing unsuitable shoes, leading to several foot problems. While some people wash their feet regularly, it should be understood that this is not enough.
Since healthy feet are vital to your health, it is important to protect your feet from unnecessary pain and other problems. Maintaining proper foot hygiene prevents malodor, fungal infections, dermatitis, ingrown nails, yellowing of nails, cuts, sores, and many other problems.
To improve and maintain the health of your feet, it is suggested to spend at least 5 minutes cleaning your feet daily and to give them a weekly treatment as well. These measures keep your feet healthy and strong, allowing them to support your body better.
Daily Foot Care
Keeping your feet clean is imperative and an easily achieved task. The following steps are necessary parts of a daily foot care regimen to keep your feet clean and healthy:
1. Clean your feet
Make sure to wash your feet every day with soap and water while taking a shower. Ensure that you clean between the toes, around the nails, and under your feet.
In addition, wash your feet after exercising or doing activities that cause profuse sweating. Otherwise, sweat is trapped in your socks or shoes, increasing the risk of fungal infections and other foot problems.
2. Moisturize your feet
It is essential to moisturize your feet every day to keep them hydrated and nourished. Just as you should clean between your toes, you must moisturize these areas as well.
It is best to use a foot cream that is meant to maintain the health of your feet with the right oils. You can also use coconut oil or castor oil as moisturizers. Castor oil is beneficial if your skin is cracked, thickened, or callused or if you have foot corns.
Disclaimer: It is recommended to apply feet oils only before bedtime to avoid slips and falls.
3. Wear good-fitting shoes
Aside from cleaning your feet daily, keeping them comfortable is also essential. Therefore, you must avoid ill-fitting shoes, which are a primary cause of corns. (1) Wearing tight shoes can block the moisture, leading to cracked and dry feet.
It is suggested to use leather shoes that allow circulation of air within the feet. If you have excessively sweaty feet, use shoes with mesh fabrics. (2)
You can also select broad, rounded shoes that are wide at the front, allowing your toes to sit comfortably. These shoes should have stable, wide heels. Also, avoid pointy shoes that put pressure on your toes and often cause calluses and ingrown nails.
Additionally, make sure to use shower shoes in the gym, locker rooms, public pools, and other similar places as you can easily contract fungal infection from these places if you walk barefoot. For the same reasons, avoid using others’ socks and shoes.
4. Use fresh, dry socks
It is highly suggested to use good-quality, soft socks, as your feet constantly rub against them. If you use rough socks, your feet are subject to excessive friction, leading to dryness, roughness, and cracks.
Moreover, wearing a soft, breathable fabric, such as cotton and wool, allows your feet to stay fresh and moisturized. Synthetic fibers can wick the moisture away from your feet.
Do not wear socks that are too tight, as they can trap excessive moisture, increasing the chances of fungal growth. Change into fresh, dry socks immediately if your socks get wet with water or sweat.
Weekly Treatment for Your Feet
In addition to daily foot care, the following weekly foot treatments must also be done:
1. Soak your feet
Soaking your feet in a water bath loosens tight skin, dead skin cells, dirt, and hardened nails.
- Fill a foot basin or tub with warm water.
- Add a few drops of antiseptic solution and shampoo to the water and mix gently.
- Soak your feet in the solution for 5–10 minutes.
2. Scrub off the dirt
When your feet have been soaked, it is easier to remove the dirt and dead skin off your feet by gentle scrubbing.
- Once your feet are soft and the dirt has loosened up, scrub your feet gently using a loofah, sponge, or washcloth.
- Using a toothbrush or a nail brush, clean your toenails and nail borders to remove the trapped dirt.
- Using a foot scrubber, clean your soles and heels gently.
- Rinse your feet to remove all the loosened dirt and dry skin cells, leaving the softer skin exposed.
3. Exfoliate your feet
As an alternative to soaking your feet and scrubbing them, exfoliating your feet may also remove dead skin cells and dirt, especially from your heels. (3) You can either use a body scrub or a foot scrub. For the heel of your feet, you can use a pumice stone.
Other at-home, natural DIY foot scrubs that you can try to soften your feet include:
- Oatmeal scrub: Add a few drops of jojoba oil to 1 tbsp of oatmeal, and use the mixture to massage your feet. Rinse after 20 minutes of application, and dry your feet with a towel.
- Rice flour scrub: Mix 3 tbsp of honey, 3 tbsp of rice flour, and 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and apply this mixture to your feet. Rinse it off after 15 minutes.
- Coconut oil and Epsom salt scrub: Mix Epsom salt with coconut oil, and use the mixture to massage your feet. Leave it on for 10–15 minutes, and wash it off with warm water.
4. Trim your nails
After exfoliating or scrubbing your feet, make sure to pay attention to your toenails. Since soaked toenails are easier to clip off, this should be the next step.
Use a clean toenail clipper to cut the nails straight across, especially if they are long, to prevent ingrown nails or trapping of dirt and microbes. Avoid getting too close to the skin, and do not cut the corners too short, as it can increase the chances of ingrown nails.
5. Dry your feet and check for any infections
After scrubbing or exfoliating your feet and trimming your nails, rinse your feet with water and pat them dry. Make sure to dry between the toes as well, as moisture between them can lead to bacterial growth, malodor, and infections.
While doing so, examine your feet, especially the soles and between the toes, for any scaling and peeling of the skin or discoloration, thickening, crumbling, or cracking of the nails, which are signs of a fungal infection. (4)
Also look for corns, calluses, or other problems in your nails so that you can get proper treatment. Checking your feet is highly essential if you have diabetes, since there is an increased risk of infection and foot sores.
6. Moisturize and massage
When your feet are properly dry, apply a moisturizer and massage gently for a few minutes. Doing so not only moisturizes your feet but also boosts blood circulation to the area.
In addition to maintaining proper foot hygiene, the following tips are helpful in maintaining good health of your feet:
- Try to stay barefoot at home, especially at night, to let your feet breathe.
- Avoid using chemicals, perfumed lotion, and antiseptic soaps on your feet.
- Refrain from cutting or picking the cuticles around your toenails.
- Rinse and dry your feet properly after swimming.
- Consult your doctor if you notice any blisters, bumps, or cuts on your feet or if you have foot pain, especially if you are diabetic.
- If you have itchy feet, consult a doctor to rule out dermatitis or fungal infection.
- Avoid applying nail polishes if your feet are infected.
Your feet deserve utmost pampering, especially that they support your body every day. Clean and moisturize them properly, and exfoliate and massage them at least once a week. These measures are necessary to remove dead skin and dirt from your feet, preventing infections, cracking, corns, and calluses.
Massaging helps boost circulation to the feet, making them healthy and strong. You can also go for a pedicure or foot spa once in a while to maintain the health and comfort of your feet.