A Man's Quick-Tip Guide to Foot and Nail Care
11 July 2019
Written by Dr Helena Torpinksi.
Dr Helena is a GP and skin laser specialist. She loves helping our patients to feel great in the skin they’re in.
It may be an unfair generalisation, but we’re pretty sure men don’t take as much care of their feet and nails as women.
While it may be a bit much to expect men to enjoy a monthly pedicure with you, there are things every many should be doing, or have at the ready, to ensure foot and nail care.
Because good foot hygiene is better than the long road to recovery, if things aren’t treated as they should be.
Trimming Toe Nails
Clumsy toe nail trimming can result in a lot of pain, it can cause infection and it can predispose the nail to fungal growth and ingrown toe nails. No man wants any of those things, no matter how much he says he doesn’t care how his feet look.
When trimming toe nails, do not cut them too short. Use curved clippers and don’t pull nails or skin off by hand.
Wash Well Then Keep Feet Dry
Wash feet thoroughly – yes, the soap should make it to the feet too.
Feet can sweat a lot and it’s good to properly wash our feet daily. After washing, dry your feet well, especially between your toes. Not doing so can result in fungal infections and damaged skin.
Men with recurrent fungal problems may need to use a hairdryer to ensure the skin is properly dry.
Cotton, Not Synthetics
Wear cotton socks, or other natural fibres, and change them frequently, specially if your feet are sweating (i.e. when playing sports or on hot summer days).
Carrying an extra pair of socks as a matter of course is a great idea.
Synthetic fabrics generally don’t allow the skin to breath, and don’t absorb moisture, so they exacerbate problems caused by sweat on the feet.
And if your feet sweat so much your shoes are getting wet, let them dry out before wearing them again…placing them outside or by a window may be necessary!
Finally, if you have particularly sweaty feet, you may need a medicated powder or spray. Ask your doctor or dermatologist for more guidance.
Treat Fungal Growth Quickly
If feet are not kept dry and clean, and a fungal infection occurs, skin can become red, flakey and sore, and nails can yellow and become crusty.
Over the counter remedies may help, but these kinds of infections can take a long time to clear up. If you’re experiencing a non-healing fungal infection, see your GP.
Lumps, Bumps and Blisters
There are many types of lumps and bumps that can affect feet. Most are caused by ill-fitting shoes, and the most common of these are blisters. Calluses can also develop from ill-fitting shoes, over a longer time.
It’s worth seeking the assistance of a podiatrist or sports physician to help you with shoe choices. And carry bandaids to apply at the first sign of irritation (a broken blister can not only be very painful but can risk infection if not covered and cared for).
If you’re experiencing a corn or callus, soak feet in warm water to soften the skin. Then gently remove the bump with a pumice stone (available from most Chemists) or a medicated plaster/strip.
If you’re experiencing warts on your feet, it’s best to manage these with over the counter preparations (ask your Chemist) or see your GP or dermatologist for recommendations.
If you’re doing a lot of sport, specially endurance sports, invest in well fitted, moisture wicking socks, as these can prevent both the lumps and bumps from shoes rubbing the skin, and issues associated with sweat and moisture.
Aching Feet Need Attention
Standing for prolonged periods of time means you need to choose your shoes well. A slightly raised heel that is well cushioned, and good arch support, are a must. Shoes shouldn’t hurt – so avoid those uncomfortable shoes!
If you have shoes that deliver a cushioned heel and arch support but you’re still experiencing sore feet at the end of the day, it’s definitely worth discussion orthotics with a podiatrist.
Inserts that you buy off the shelf can provide cushioning and some support, and may make shoes and standing more comfortable, but they aren’t designed to correct foot problems.
Orthotics can correct biomechanical foot issues when you walk, stand or run, which can not only help your feet, but your whole skeletal system. They can also help manage pain caused by plantar fasciitis, arthritis, bursitis and diabetes. You can have your orthotics designed to fit specialist sporting footwear, such as ski boots.
A Little More About Shoes
Avoid wearing thongs and flats, as they can contribute to foot deformities.
Before buying new shoes, have a professional measure the length and width of your feet – and get these measurements done at the end of the day, while standing, when feet are more likely to be at their most swollen.
Foot width increases with age, so have your feet re-measured regularly or when shoes begin to feel like they’re too small.
The upper part of your shoe should be made of soft, flexible material to match the shape of your foot. Leather shoes reduce the possibility of skin irritation, so can be a good choice. But there are other options for those who prefer not to choose leather.
The soles of shoes should not be slippery and should not be thin. Thicker soles offer greater protection and can lessen pressure when walking on hard surfaces.
Flat Feet and High Arches
Many people suffer from flat feet and high arches. These are simply a product of genetics but can result is the onset of painful foot conditions, as well as skeletal alignment issues.
Consult a podiatrist for an assessment to determine whether these are an issue for you. The earlier the intervention, the less likely you’ll be to develop painful foot conditions, or worsen the structural pressure it’s causing to your knees, hips and back.
Healthy Body – Healthy Feet
As with most health conditions, the basic healthy living suggestions also affect foot health.
Smoking can reduce blood flow to the feet, which can cause a variety of issues. Poor circulation can also be exacerbated by exposure to the cold or water, pressure from poorly fitted shoes and sitting for long periods. To improve circulation, first stop smoking, make sure you’re standing and walking regularly, stretch your feet and legs.
Keep your weight down. The pressure of greater weight on your feet can have a negative effect. Exercise regularly, eat lots of vegetables and fruit, and limit alcohol, sugar and bad fats.
Keep your feet soft. Dry skin not only looks bad, but it can also develop into other issues. A good, daily moisturiser, applied after a shower, to dry feet, can be helpful.
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