So you are locked up in your home and unable to get to see your favorite foot care provider. Your nails are getting long and your feet hurt. What do you do? Here are some tips and tricks to help care for your feet until your next visit.
Keep your feet as clean as possible: Healthy intact skin and nails are our best defense against skin or nail infections. Using warm water and a mild soap wash well in between toes and use a nail brush to gently scrub under and around nails and bottoms of feet. This will get rid of dirt and bacteria and help stimulate blood flow which can help improve circulation. Be gentle as, to rough a scrubbing can damage skin and cuticles. Make sure to pat feet dry thoroughly and dry well between toes as there is less airflow there and damp skin can lead to skin breakdown.
Apply a moisturizing lotion or cream to feet and legs: This will go a long way to keep the skin supple and resistant to damage. Dry skin is more susceptible to cracking and injury. Select an unscented version to minimize reaction to scents or perfumes. Moisturizing once a day after bathing locks in moisture and is sufficient for most skin types. Applying natural fiber socks after moisturizing also helps lock in moisture and helps to manage perspiration. However, there are those who suffer from very dry skin or hypohydrosis. This skin type may need special care. Dry skin requires more emollients or oils to help keep the skin hydrated and a creamier formulation may work better. If a cream formulation is insufficient your foot care provider may recommend a keratolytic agent such as urea. Urea is added to many foot lotions and creams to help the skin moisturize itself. It works by drawing moisture from the deeper dermal layers out to the epidermis on the surface. There are good over-the-counter products or if needed professional products that will help remedy dry skin. Just ask your foot care provider to recommend something suitable for you.
Wear appropriate foot wear: Your choice of foot wear is more important than you think. A good shoe or boot is going to protect and support your foot in proper alignment and assist in a steady gait when you walk. A well-fitted shoe will also minimize your risk of falls. What constitutes appropriate foot wear? A shoe or boot that is neither so large that your foot sloshes around in it when you move nor one that is so tight that it leaves marks on your foot or causes injury. When shopping for foot wear it is best to go in the afternoon. This is because everyone’s feet swell a bit over the course of the day. This way you’ll avoid getting a shoe that is too tight or too loose. A good shoe should feel comfortable and have enough room in the toe box for you to be able to wiggle your toes. This is especially important if you have overlapping toes or hammer toes. A good shoe should “breathe”. It should be made of a fabric that will allow moisture to escape to keep the feet from sweating. Good examples fabrics that “breathe” are leather and mesh.
Nail care: If you are able to reach your feet this is much less of an issue and you can trim your own nails. If you can’t reach your feet or have thick nails have someone you trust to carefully trim or file extra length a bit until you are able to see your foot care provider again.
Callus or corn care: This is more difficult even if you can reach your feet as sometimes callus and corns are very thick or deep and need to be professionally removed. What can you do at home? After you bathe or during bathing use a foot file to gently smooth rough skin. As mentioned above, moisturizing helps a great deal to keep skin soft. Also wearing foot wear that doesn’t “rub” or cause friction anywhere will help minimize pressure on existing and help prevent further calluses and corns.
Make taking care of your feet a priority because you only get one set in your lifetime and you use them everyday!
Please visit https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 for the most accurate updates in regards COVID-19.
Vivienne McGaghet RPN, AFCN
Cambridge Physiotherapy & Rehab Center