How do I look after my feet?
Feet are often out of sight and out of mind, wrapped up in socks and shoes, especially in winter. Lots of us don’t really pay much attention to our feet until they start to hurt, or something doesn’t look right. For many of us, they are low down the list of self-care for our bodies.
But good foot hygiene is important for many reasons, not least keeping your skin in tip-top condition and preventing problems like athlete’s foot and bacterial infections.
So here we’ll share some of our tips for good foot hygiene.
When we wash our feet, we should always take care to clean well in between toes. This helps to clear away any build up of old skin cells and reduces fungal and bacterial load on the skin. Once feet have been washed, it’s important to dry well between toes. Fungus in particular loves warm, dark, and damp environments, just like those in between toes after a bath or shower! If you struggle to reach your feet to dry them, a short blast with a hairdryer on a warm setting can help (not too hot mind!)
If you find the skin on your feet gets dry, then a urea-based moisturiser applied daily can work wonders. We love the Gehwol and Flexitol creams we stock in clinic. When you apply moisturising creams to your feet, try to avoid the areas between the toes. For the reasons we just talked about, the skin here tends to have a high enough moisture content and doesn’t need any extra.
But… the feet themselves are just the start.
Each day we put socks and shoes on our feet, so keeping these clean is just as important.
Socks work much harder for us than we give them credit for. Our feet have around 250,000 sweat glands and can produce up to 2 cups of sweat a day! Much of this moisture is absorbed into your socks and footwear. It takes time for that moisture to evaporate, which can create the perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive.
It’s important to change socks every day (or even more than that if you have particularly sweaty feet). Wash them at high temperatures (at least 60 degrees) to kill fungal spores and bacteria that have been shed from your feet into socks and tights. The same goes for underwear, towels, and bedding!
Then there’s shoes themselves. We clean our clothes, and the outsides of our shoes, but not often the insides of them, and they work just as hard for us as the soles and laces!
Changing shoes regularly and alternating days when you wear certain pairs helps the moisture that they absorb to evaporate more. If this isn’t possible, then popping some if the little silica gel packets that we get in some goods we buy are great for this. Instead of throwing them away, place them inside your shoes when you take them off, and they will absorb some of that excess moisture (they also work well for drying out mobile phones after water-related accidents!)
Use an antifungal powder in shoes regularly (like Daktarin spray for example), to help reduce the build-up of fungal spores.
Remember, if you think you may have a fungal infection in your feet that you are struggling to treat, a Podiatrist can help!
Check out our blog on fungal infections for more information - https://roundhousepodiatry.com/athletes-foot/fungal-infections-and-feet/