April is foot health awareness month, and there are several things you can do to keep your feet healthy and happy! First, ensure you have proper footwear. Wear sneakers if you can, and make sure they have arch support if you have a flat foot. Choose shoes with a stiff sole (nothing too flexible).
Many people wear the wrong size shoe, which can cause permanent foot damage. To find your correct shoe size, get sized during the afternoon when your feet are the largest.
For women, a 2-inch heel or wedge is better than wearing flats, especially if you have plantar fasciitis. Most flip-flops are also bad for your feet (both men and women), as they provide little support.
Check your feet each day, especially if you’re diabetic. Those with the disease can develop calluses that predispose them to sores. Additionally, some diabetics don’t have a lot of feeling in their feet, so they can see problems but not feel them.
During the spring and summer months, check your feet for athlete’s foot. To prevent it, don’t walk around the pool or gym without shoes.
It’s important to keep your feet moisturized both in the morning and at night. Use lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not in between toes, as they stay naturally moisturized. Use a good lotion, as Vaseline and cocoa butter do not penetrate the skin well.
Many people enjoy getting pedicures at the salon now that the weather is warmer. Nail fungus and infections pose risks. To ensure you protect yourself:
- Invest in your own instruments and bring them with you.
- If you choose to let the nail tech use the salon’s instruments, make sure they are sterilized.
- Use a foot file or pumice stone instead of a microplane foot file (the one that looks like a cheese grater).
- Do not push cuticles back, as this increases your risk of infection.
Diabetics should check with their podiatrist before getting a pedicure. At the very least, they should mention that they have diabetes to the nail tech before he or she begins the pedicure.
Michael Price, DPM, is a podiatrist at Triad Foot and Ankle Center in Greensboro and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. He earned his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University and completed his residency at University of Florida Health – Jacksonville.