Your Feet Need Nail and Skin Care, Too!
When you think about caring for your skin and nails, a smooth face and soft hands may come to mind, but please don’t ignore your feet! Proper skin and nail care for feet can head off some nasty problems and keep your feet and toes healthy and attractive at the same time. We’ll tell you some things that can go wrong, and then tell you what to do to avoid them.
Skin and Nail Problems in Feet
Your skin is a natural barrier that protects underlying tissue from harm and disease, so keeping it healthy should be of top concern. Although toenails may not play as important a role, they can certainly have issues of their own. Here are some things to watch for in your feet:
- Dry skin. Exposure to dry air or lack of hydration can dry out your skin and make it less elastic, leading to problems like calluses and cracked heels. Oddly, too much exposure to hot water can do the same thing (think long tub soaks or sitting in hot tubs).
- Infections. Athlete’s foot is a common one, and the same microorganisms can cause toenail fungus as well. Any break in the skin surface can also open your body to bacterial infections such as staph or flesh-eating bacteria.
- Rashes and blisters. These can be anything from road rash or scrapes to those caused by exposure to toxins or diseases like eczema and psoriasis. Blisters happen when the skin shear separates the layers and fluid collects between them.
- Corns, calluses, warts. The first two are caused by pressure and friction, often from shoes, and the third by a virus that can be picked up from contact with an infected surface (damp floors, tubs and showers, even towels and socks). Extended use of open backed shoes (sandals and flip flops) can cause painful callused and cracked skin on your heels.
- Ingrown nails and black toenails. A nail growing into the surrounding flesh at the edge can cause extreme pain and swelling and lead to infection if not treated. A black toenail is usually caused by injury that causes blood to pool under the nail, but could also be a fungal infection or a rare form of cancer.
How to Care for Skin and Nails
To begin with, keep your feet clean. Wash them every day, and use a soft brush to gently clean under the ends of the nails. This gets rid of bacteria and fungi before they have a chance to penetrate and infect the skin or nail. After cleaning, dry feet and between toes thoroughly, because these microorganisms love warm, moist spots.
While skin is softened, you may want to gently abrade any callused areas to remove dead skin layers, using a file or pumice stone. If your skin is dry, use moisturizer once or twice each day to recondition it.
Don’t forget your nails! They can become dry and brittle from nail polishes and removers, or just from aging, so rub a little cuticle cream or petroleum jelly on them to condition them. Be careful when getting pedicures to avoid infection. If doing it yourself, learn the proper way to trim your nails.
If fungal infections are a problem, be sure to use anti-fungal sprays or powders on your feet, and in your shoes, too. Wear socks and shoes that allow your feet to breathe—and allow extra moisture to escape. To avoid fungus, be sure to wear foot protection when you walk in public places.
Footwear should not constrict the feet in any way and should be free of friction spots that could lead to calluses, corns, or blisters. It should have proper support—especially if you stand at work or are involved in running or sports. Shoes should also be roomy in front so your toes are not pinched or banging against them as you run.
Finding Help for Foot Problems in the South Bay
If you have skin sores on your feet, need a wart taken care of, or have an ingrown nail that is making you miserable, don’t wait to call Far West Podiatric Medical Group for help. Our expert podiatrists have seen—and treated—it all, and know just what to do to take care of your skin and nail conditions. You can reach our office in Hawthorne, CA at (310) 675-0900, or set up a time online to come in. We’ll help keep your feet healthy to carry you through all your favorite activities!
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