Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Top 5 Winter Foot Care Tips

Every season brings unique challenges for your foot health. Since your foot health is an essential part of your overall health, you need to protect your feet all year long and winter is no exception. Whether you’re facing extreme cold and dampness or slogging through deep snow, your feet need to be properly cared for. Here are five winter foot care tips that will keep your feet healthy all winter long and ensure that they are ready for action when spring arrives.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

1. Stick to a Regular Foot Care Regime: Having a regular foot care regime is the easiest way to ensure foot health and prevent problems. To begin with, give your feet a relaxing bath after a tiring day. Keep your feet clean and dry and your nails neatly cut and filed. You may use a pumice stone from time to time to avoid buildup of hard skin. However, it’s advisable to soften the stone at first with water and then use it on your heels. Since your skin tends to get dry in winter, make sure you apply a good moisturizer on your feet.

2. Plan to Combat Dry and Cracked Heels: Dry and cracked heels are a common problem in winter. A simple solution is to rub Vaseline on your heels after bathing or showering as it works as a seal locking the moisture in. For utmost effectiveness, you could wear socks or use plastic wrap to cover your feet overnight.

3. Opt for a Nail Polish Vacation: You may be tempted to use nail polish to make your nails look pretty but give it a miss from time to time this winter. Since nail polish can trap bacteria inside your nails, it can trigger discoloration, cause infection, weaken your nails, etc. As winter season means your feet will be spending more time in closed shoes and socks than they do in the summer, your toenails will have lesser access to air this season. By not using nail-related beauty products, you can let your nails counteract this, thus ensuring that they stay healthy.

4. Make Sure Your Shoes Are Dry and Fit Well: Spending a lot of time outdoors in the damp weather or snow could make your shoes wet. Wearing wet shoes will not only make your feet feel colder but will also give bacteria an ideal place to thrive. So, you should remove your wet shoes as soon as you get home and put them somewhere warm (say, by the radiator) to ensure that they get dry. It would be wise to have more than one pair of shoes so that you can rotate them daily. It’s also important to use footwear that offers you a snug fit. Wearing properly fitted skates and boots would help prevent chafing, blisters, and foot or ankle injuries.

5. Choose Your Socks Wisely: Since your feet are likely to stay in closed shoes for a long time this season, invest in socks with moisture-wicking properties (such as breathable bamboo socks). Though you may be tempted to use cotton socks, you should remember that despite cotton being a natural fiber, it absorbs sweat in socks rather than wicking the moisture away. You should ensure that you change your socks daily and wash them regularly so as to prevent the spread of bacteria. If you prefer wearing two pairs of socks to offer your feet more protection and double the effects, remember to avoid tight socks as they would adversely affect the blood circulation in your feet.

This winter, keep these foot care tips in mind to ensure healthy and active feet.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Top 5 Tips for Cracked Heels

Cracked heels are one of the most common foot problems. Though the condition isn’t serious in most cases, it’s embarrassing for sure. If you have been affected by cracked heels and don’t know what to do, we bring you the top five tips as suggested by expert podiatrists.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

1. Use a Foot Soak: Since the skin around the cracked heels is usually drier and thicker than the rest of your skin in most cases, getting rid of it isn’t easy. If you try to remove it by applying pressure, it may split. Using a foot soak is the ideal solution to soften the skin so that you can exfoliate it easily. However, it’s important not to use hot water as it will make the skin drier. Use lukewarm, soapy water instead and soak your feet for about 20 minutes.  

2. Follow It up with Exfoliation: Use a pumice stone, a foot scrubber or a loofah to gently rub your heels. Since the foot soak has softened the skin, removing the hard, dead skin would be easier. However, make sure not to scrub your feet vigorously or exfoliate when they’re dry because doing so would increase the risk of damaging the skin.

3. Use Foot Cream/Moisturizers/Emollients: Pat your feet dry and apply a foot cream or a thick moisturizer on the affected area. You may even use emollients (as suggested by your podiatrist) since they penetrate the skin, fill the gaps between skin flakes and decrease water loss. All these make your skin feel soft, smooth and flexible. After you’ve applied a moisturizer or foot cream, apply a layer of petroleum jelly on top to lock in the moisture.

4. Wear 100% Cotton Socks to Bed: Doing this will not only prevent your bed sheets from getting stained but will also help to seal in the moisture. Additionally, cotton socks will allow your heel skin to breathe. No wonder podiatrists suggest slipping on a pair of thin cotton socks at bedtime to let the moisturizer work and facilitate faster healing of cracked heels.  

5. Seek Professional Help If the Above Tips Don't Work: The tips mentioned above combined with regular foot care should get rid of cracked heels easily. If the condition doesn’t improve within a week or two, you shouldn’t think twice about seeking your podiatrist’s help. Remember that ignoring cracked heels may cause the development of deeper fissures over time, which will increase your risk of infection. This, in turn, may lead to serious complications, especially if you already have pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, etc.). 

Final Words

Feet are often the most neglected part of our body. No wonder that in most cases, cracked heels are ignored unless they start causing discomfort or pain or threaten to turn serious. If self-care measures fail to bring relief or don't cause any visible difference in your feet condition, it’s important to talk to your foot doctor to know about the other treatment options available. Such options may include using stronger softening or removal agents (to remove the dead skin), application of medical glue to seal cracks, strapping the heel with bandages, using orthotics (heel pads, shoe inserts or heel cups), etc. 

Friday, 23 August 2019

Top 5 Tips to Care for Your Feet as You Age

As you age, you are likely to take care of your health but one important body part that often remains off radar is the feet. Though your feet are under tremendous amounts of pressure, you may often neglect them when it comes to taking care of your overall health. However, you should remember that aging affects your feet just as it does the rest of your body. Indeed you can call your feet the unsung hero of your mobility and hence should take all the necessary steps to ensure that they stay healthy. Here are the top five-foot care tips that you should adhere to.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Maintaining Ideal Weight: As you age your BMI (Body Mass Index) increases, especially if you start leading a sedentary life. This excess weight puts your feet under extra pressure which they find difficult to handle. As a result, your risk of foot pain increases. The solution lies in shedding the excess flab and leading an active life in order to maintain an ideal weight.

2. Using External Cushioning: Humans are born with a specific amount of fat under the feet, particularly under the balls and the heels, which facilitates shock absorption. Since aging triggers the loss of this fat pad, you are likely to become more susceptible to balance problems, bruised bones and stress fractures as you get older. Podiatrists suggest using external cushioning (such as gel pads, insoles, etc.) to supplement the fat pad, which can help you steer clear of pain and other foot problems as you age.

3. Seeking Medical Attention for Numbness or Tingling Sensation in Feet: Blood circulation problems are common in older people. The blood flow to your feet may also be affected by other factors such as smoking, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, and blood clots. Since poor or obstructed blood flow often manifests itself in the form of pain, numbness and tingling sensation in the feet, you should seek medical attention if you experience such conditions.

4. Performing Basic Stretches and Simple Exercises for Maintaining Foot Mobility: For strengthening your foot muscles, you should do simple stretches and exercises after consulting your foot doctor. These could include foot circles, basic stretches for your Achilles, heel, and toe raises, standing on one foot, etc. Many podiatrists suggest swimming and cycling as cardio workouts. Since they aren’t weight-bearing activities, they are easier on your feet.

5. Getting an Annual Foot Check-Up Done: As you get older, you should ensure that you get an annual foot health check is done as it’s as important as your hearing or sight test. Regular foot checkups can help the doctor identify the first signs of trouble caused by conditions like diabetes, circulatory problems, etc. Even some common problems such as cracked skin, corns, and ingrown toenails can be successfully treated on time if you don’t miss your regular appointments with your podiatrist. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Top 4 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Rely on Google Search to Treat Your Foot Ailments

The smartphone hasn’t just transformed the way you communicate. It has also significantly altered the way you see and access healthcare. With Google search at your fingertips, you can easily research an ailment and find ways to self-treat it. Hence it is no wonder that almost every ache and pain today is at the mercy of Dr. Google. It’s true that rising healthcare costs, steep insurance deductibles, and the frenetic schedule of modern-day living has made it difficult for people to seek the advice of experienced doctors. As a result, they turn to Google to find cheaper self-help options and it’s no different for foot ailments.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Though Google can be a valuable resource to help you understand what’s troubling you, it’s important to realize when things demand a specialist’s care. Google search results should never be followed blindly.  It is necessary to understand when you can treat yourself safely and when you are required to visit your doctor. When it comes to foot ailments, here are the top four reasons why you shouldn’t rely on Google search to play the doctor:

      1.       Your Generic Symptoms May Have Other Underlying Causes

A Google search on swelling and pain in the lower leg may bring you search results that suggest elevating your lower leg or using ice packs on the affected area. But your condition may have underlying causes such as blood clots, tendon tears, peripheral venous insufficiency, etc. Since Google can’t distinguish between these root causes, you need to see a podiatrist who would be able to find the root cause and suggest the proper course of treatment. If you decide to rely on Google, you may end up doing more harm than good to your leg, and in the long-run, your overall health as well.

      2.       Unreliability of Information Available

The results a Google search yield varies from reputed sites and blogs of podiatrists to common people who just share their opinions and suggestions. Thus, the information you depend on for treating your foot ailments on your own may often be unreliable as you can’t know whether the person giving the suggestions or talking about the treatment methods are really qualified to do it.

      3.     Risky to Play Doctor Without Proper Diagnosis

Foot doctors can prescribe different diagnostic tests such as x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, blood tests, etc. to find out the underlying problems triggering your foot ailments. Based on the results of the test they can decide on the proper course of treatment. To understand why this is way better than relying on Google, imagine a scenario where a runner is down with leg pain and swelling. In case the runner has Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or an undetected blood clot, leaving it untreated could result in its migration into the brain and lungs, which could turn fatal. Seeking medical attention, in this case, would mean a quick diagnosis via a Doppler or a venogram. This will help in identifying the condition quickly and blood thinners, if needed, could be started.

     4.       The Absence of Personalized Treatment Plans

      Google won’t understand what is triggering your foot ailment. The same condition, say foot pain and swelling, in A, could be caused by poor biomechanics or cholesterol-lowering meds, while in B, ill-fitting shoes or tendonitis caused by overuse could be to blame. Approaching a foot doctor would mean personalized treatment for the exact cause which Google can’t provide.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that Google can be used as an adjunct for treating foot ailments but not as a replacement for an in-person assessment by an experienced podiatrist.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Top 4 Steps to Beat Aching Feet

A huge percentage of people experience foot problems during their lifetime. The feet are a complex part of the body. They are made up of bones, ligaments, joints, muscles and tendons. They are also at times subjected to a huge amount of pressure, so it’s hardly surprising when some people experience terrible feet pain. This is a condition which threatens to sideline a huge percentage of athletes and everyday walkers each year. Here’re the things you can do to ease feet ache.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

1. Choose Proper Shoes

Properly fitted shoes can help prevent foot pain from sidelining you. Wear shoes with shock-absorbing, thick soles that shield the feet from hard pavements and rough surfaces. Avoid wearing shoes with soles that are worn out or thin. Wearing high heels usually tightens the calf muscles which can lead to feet ache. Try to change heel heights from high to low when possible. Sometimes, your feet pitches forward while walking. Wearing a half-insole can help prevent this discomfort. If a lot of running or jumping is involved, shoes with good shock absorption are a must. Also, look for a pair that won’t allow extreme rubbing along your foot’s sole.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight impacts your feet by putting huge pressure on them with every step. Also, it can increase your risk of developing conditions like arthritis in your feet and can worsen already existing pain. In addition, being overweight can place you at a greater risk of poor blood circulation or diabetes, which in turn would harm your overall foot health, as these conditions often lead to loss of sensation in your feet and may even trigger foot pain.

3. Use Orthotics After Consulting Your Doctor

Orthotics, or arch supports, can keep the feet stable while walking or standing, thus eliminating pain. If you live an extremely athletic life where you are exposed to excessive running, or if you suffer from obesity and have a sedentary lifestyle, or if you have a job that requires you to stand for prolonged periods, etc., you may be prone to foot pain. Such pain can be alleviated with the use of orthotics. Though you can purchase them at a store, you should consult your doctor first and have them custom-made if necessary. With the help of night splints, you may be able to take care of your foot pain while you’re asleep.

4. Don’t Neglect Stretches, Especially the Post-workout Ones

People may not generally think about stretching when it comes to eliminating foot pain. But stretching the top and bottom of your feet can help prevent as well as treat foot pain. To relieve stiffness and pain, you can stretch the feet out in front of you. You can also roll your feet over a bottle of frozen water to get relief from foot pain.

If you’ve addressed the probable cause of your foot pain and have followed the above steps but are still suffering from pain, you should consult a doctor without any further delay. While your foot should be on the mend as you start following the above tips, there may be some underlying conditions that need further evaluation from a specialist, especially when the pain persists.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Top 5 Foot Care Tips to Have Healthy Feet During Pregnancy

Hormonal changes and weight gain during pregnancy are common. Yet, most women don’t give much importance to their foothealth though the feet do bear the brunt of some major changes happening during this stage. From cramps and foot pain to swelling due to varicose veins on lower limbs and itchiness, foot problems can create a lot of discomfort during pregnancy. Here are five foot care tips which you can follow to ensure you have healthy feet during pregnancy. 

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

1. Make your feet strong with strengthening exercises: Ideally, you should start doing foot strengthening exercises such as ankle rotation, toe curls, leg shake, thigh shift, etc. early on in your pregnancy to ensure your feet are prepared to handle the additional weight, which you will be gaining over the next few months.

2. Stay active: Staying up on your feet for most part of the day would mean your feet getting used, which would help them steer clear of going numb. So, instead of lying down or sitting for long hours at a stretch, you should move around the house, go for short walks in your neighborhood or simply do some light exercise as all these will increase the overall blood flow in your body, including in your legs and feet. 

3.Choose supportive and comfortable footwear: Choosing the right footwear (preferably with laces, straps or Velcro) is crucial to avoid foot discomfort during pregnancy. Ideally, you should avoid wearing all types of heels as they will put unnecessary pressure on your joints which are already under a lot of strain. However, if you must wear them for some reason, opt for a heel height of 3 cm as it will shift your weight a little forward on your feet, which can help lessen discomfort. You should also avoid wearing shoes with tapered toe boxes as they will cramp up your feet and make them prone to sensitivity, swelling, etc.

4. Pamper your feet with massages and foot therapies: Opt for foot treatments and massages that will improve the blood flow in your feet and reduce the stress on them, thus making them feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Since your swelling stomach will make it difficult to reach out to your feet, you may even opt for pampering pedicure sessions to loosen up your nerves and keep your feet cleansed and moisturized, which will help avoid itching and also avoid problems caused by dirt, fungal infection, etc.

5. Wear compression stockings and orthotic shoes after consulting your doctor: Doctors often suggest wearing compression stockings to control leg swelling in pregnant women with varicose veins. Such stockings also help prevent symptoms like tension and heaviness in the legs. You may even use orthotic shoes that offer your feet additional support and comfort compared to your usual footwear. However, you should use compression stockings and orthotic shoes as recommended by your doctor and not according to your whims and fancies because the wrong product may end up doing more harm than good.

Pregnancy is a blissful phase and with these tips, you can ensure you have healthy feet to support you during this period. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Signs You Need to Change Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is tricky. Something that is working for you may not work after a few months. In fact, there is a huge possibility that you may require an occasional alteration in the plan of treatment, whether it means you have to change a medication or switch to a different kind of treatment. Here are a few signs that it is time to speak to your medical expert about changing your rheumatoid arthritis treatment:

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1. There is a flare.
There are some patients that may experience phases where their symptoms including, swollen joints, stiffness and fatigue, may worsen. This may happen because of stress, some other kind of illness, or at times for no reason. When something like this happens, the experts may recommend corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

2. The medicine is not working anymore. If the symptoms of RA begin to show up again after a being under control for some time, it may be a signal that the medication is not working like it did. There are many people who tend to develop resistance to the medicines which makes it hard for the medicine to work. Keep in mind that such a change could be very subtle — the symptoms may not come back with equal force as before you began treatment. When a medicine gets less effective, it is important to switch. It is best to speak to a doctor and let the expert decide what is best.

3. More symptoms. If the RA has affected your finger joints but now you are also beginning to feel symptoms within your knees, make sure you see a doctor immediately. This could indicate towards a possible progression with the RA getting severe, and it could be indicating towards a need to change medications.

4. Remission. In case you are taking medication for your RA and have not had any major symptoms in 6 months, you may be undergoing remission. About 20 to 40% of individuals with RA reach the state of remission. And though medication is still advised, people taking biologics or DMARDs may be able to decrease their medications.

5. Infection. According to experts taking biologics may put you at risk for infection as the medication decreases the body’s immunity. Those suffering from RA may be at a risk for infections of the lung, and using certain drugs may increase this danger even further. When severe infections like a bacterial infection or flu occur, experts normally recommend stopping the use of biologics and DMARDs.

It is best to just go to your doctor if you are suspecting any kind of infection. While visiting your doctor for discussing any changes within your RA treatment, describe the symptoms thoroughly, make special notes of new pains or aches that you’ve noticed. Also, mention to your doctor if you are having a hard time carrying out everyday tasks, such as, brushing hair or holding a cup. Above all, never ignore the signs and avoid seeking help.