How do you look after your feet when you can't visit the clinic?
Whilst our foot health clinics are closed during this period of lockdown, we have prepared a few tips to help you keep your feet healthy at home.
Good foot care is essential all year round, but especially for those with diabetes or other health conditions. Taking care of your skin, circulation and overall condition of your feet will ensure that you are able to move about free from discomfort.
Simple self-care measures include:
- Always check your feet every day, looking for any new blisters, wounds, or splits between the toes. Contact us if there is anything red, hot or open sores.
- Clean and dress any cuts, scratches or wounds.
- Always wear footwear even indoors.
- Always wear shoes that fit properly, feel how they fit with your hand.
- Never sit with your feet too close to a fire.
- Use a moisturising cream everyday, but avoid between your toes.
Wash your feet daily with a simple mix of soap and warm water. Don't soak your feet for too long, as this can just make the skin soggy and in this state, can be more easily damaged. Dry them thoroughly, yet carefully with a soft towel, especially between the toes.
Damp feet are more likely to become infected by fungal infections. This is why it is equally important to change your socks or hosiery for a clean pair on a daily basis. Try to alternate your footwear, so that you are not wearing the same pair of shoes day after day. This will enable the natural perspiration that shoes absorb to dry out before being worn again.
Moisturise Your Feet Every Day
If you can, use an emery board style foot file on any thickened skin - perhaps on the balls of your feet or around the heels. Do not use a file that is too coarse, nor a metal cheese-grater style rasp, as these can tear the skin. Little and often is much better than trying to remove too much!
Using a good cream designed specifically for your feet, such as Flexitol Moisturising Foot Cream is likely to keep your skin healthy, flexible and avoid cracking of the skin. Don't put moisturising foot cream between your toes, as this can cause problems. The same applies to talcum powder, which we don't recommend, as it gets clogged up between your toes and can cause excessive dryness.
Check Your Feet
Especially important for those living with Diabetes, but also good advice for everyone, as our feet often get forgotten about until problems occur. Check your feet on a daily basis. This is to ensure the skin and your feet look healthy, as nerve damage might make it harder to feel a problem, so seeing is believing!
Check every part of your feet. This also includes the ankles and in between your toes. If you find this difficult, then use a mirror or magnifying glass. Alternatively, ask someone to help you who will see your feet on a daily basis.
Trim your nails
If your nails become too long take great care when trimming them yourself. If you must, try to trim your toenails straight across and file the edge to avoid ingrown toenails. Your nails will be softer after a shower or bath, or after a foot bath.
If you struggle due to mobility, ask a family member to trim your nails for you, or filing your nails may be easier and gentler on your feet.
Wear Well-fitting Footwear
Ensure your footwear actually fits your feet! Shoes too tight that pinch the toes, or too loose, so that your foot moves and rubs the skin can both cause problems such as callus and corns, abrasions and ingrown toenails. Ensure your toes have "wiggle-room", but also that you don't walk out of your footwear.
Footwear should be protective, well-fitting and supportive for your feet and ankles during movement and the stress forces that everyday life brings to them, so as to protect your foot function, maintain comfort and enhance your mobility.
Walking helps the ligaments, tendons and muscles in our feet to work more efficiently and helps maintain suppleness and flexibility. Walking at a brisk pace for regular exercise helps condition your body and improves overall cardiovascular health, in the same way, running and jogging does, but compared with running, walking carries a significantly lower risk of injury.
In these extraordinary times, when many of us are stuck at home, get up and walk briskly for at least 30 minutes every day. This is a great opportunity during our allocated daily exercise time. However, remember to stay safe, whilst maintaining the recommended 2 metres (6 feet) rule on social distancing whilst we're out walking.
The first line of treatment for any ankle sprain is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E). Using ice from the freezer within a tea towel (or even a bag of frozen peas) on a sprained ankle should be carried out, but for no more than 10 minutes in every hour for the first 24 hours.
Once any swelling has reduced, strapping (bandaging) the ankle to support it can be applied. Lifting the leg (Elevating) on a footstool, resting it is then probably best, with minimal weight-bearing exercise around the house is advisable for the next few days. Remember, if it hurts to walk on, then don't walk on it! Rest it, Ice it, Compression bandage it and Elevate it!
Calluses & Hard Skin
Corns and Calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin. They usually develop on bony areas of the feet caused by ill-fitting shoes that rub and can be painful. Avoid shoes that are too tight or have very high heels, which compress areas or those that are too loose, as your foot will slide and rub. Remove hardened skin with a pumice stone or foot file. Never use anything that resembles a metal “cheese grater”! Moisturising your feet with a quality foot cream such as Flexitol can help prevent corns and calluses.
Got a painful corn during lockdown? Here’s what you can do about this yourself until your next visit to our clinic. File over the overlying hard skin to remove some of the raised skin. Use a urea based cream such as flexitol to moisturise your skin. Try and identify the cause of your corn - is it a tight pair of shoes? If your corn has gone bloodshot or there is pus please contact us for more detailed advice.
Fungal Skin & Nails
A fungal infection that causes sore, itchy patches of skin between the toes or on the bottom surface of the foot. This can crack and flake. It may have an unpleasant smell and toenails can become infected, thick and brown from the same fungus. Change your socks or hosiery daily, and don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row, so they can dry out. Wash all socks and hosiery at 50 degrees centigrade or above to kill fungal spores. Sandals also help as they allow air to circulate between the toes and allow sunlight to your skin and nails.
Toenails can become painfully embedded in the skin at the sides. This can be prevented by not cutting your toenails too short. Follow the outline of your toe and file away any sharp edges. Soaking feet in saltwater can prevent infection and reduce swelling. Wearing shoes with a wide toe-box will help prevent the toes being pinched and any ingrowing nail spike being pushed further into the skin. If you toe becomes severely infected, then a course of antibiotics may be required from your GP, but this will only treat the infection, not the cause – the nail spike should be removed to prevent this recurring
Follow the NHS COVID-19 Guidelines
Due to the Coronavirus emergency, our clinics are temporarily closed until the lock-down restrictions have been lifted and it is safe for patients to attend for appointments, and for our footcare team to return to work.
We continue to monitor our phone lines and email, so if you have any specific questions, please contact us; leave us a message and we will respond as soon as possible.
However, none of us can be sure just how long the situation will last, but our team is keeping informed of the latest health advice and staying in regular contact with each other. We are waiting for the chance to see you again. Also, please be assured that any prepaid appointments, courses of treatments and gift vouchers will be honoured as soon as it is possible to do so. So, until we can meet again, stay safe and follow the NHS COVID-19 Guidelines.