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Essential Foot Care

Years of wear and tear can be hard on your feet, as can shoes that don’t fit properly. Injuries and disorders of the feet can affect your mobility.

Here are ideas from the American Podiatric Medical Association on how to take good care of your feet:

  • Inspect your feet regularly. Look for any changes in color, discoloring, or thickening of the nails, or peeling or scaling on the soles. See your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms.

  • Shop wisely for shoes. If you play tennis, for example, buy tennis shoes, not running shoes. Tennis shoes accommodate more side-to-side foot action, and running shoes are designed for forward motion. Shoes should always be a half-inch longer than your longest toe. Replace them as soon as they start to wear out; shoes lose support and shock-absorption capability over time.

  • Avoid walking barefoot to reduce your risk for injury or infection. When you wear sandals outdoors, be sure to apply sun block to your feet.

  • Wash your feet regularly. Pat them dry between the toes, where remaining moisture can contribute to fungus infection or athlete’s foot.

  • Alternate shoes each day. Give shoes a day or so to dry out before wearing them again, and regularly dust the insides with anti-fungal powder.

  • Be cautious with over-the-counter remedies for foot ailments, such as corns or warts. Many of these contain acids that potentially could be harmful, especially for people with vascular problems or diabetes. Some remedies can cause burns or infections when used improperly.

  • See your podiatrist for an evaluation of painful heels, bunions, hammertoes, or other serious foot problems. Whatever treatment you may need, it’s almost always better to receive it early. Even a simple foot problem can lead to knee, hip, or low back problems, as the body compensates over time with a limp or other changes to the gait.

  • Realize that foot pain isn’t normal. Even sore feet after a long day of standing may signal the need for a pair of better-fitting, more-supportive shoes.