Good intentions do not always guarantee good results. Something we feel is beneficial to us may really have no effect at all. Worse, that effect can be harmful if you’re not careful. Just ask the German chemist who wanted to create a yellow dye and ended up making TNT!
Foot care has many myths, misconceptions, and things that simply feel right at the moment but ultimately lead to more trouble. We’ll take a look at some of these mistakes and what you might want to do instead.
Before we begin, though, we should say that foot and ankle problems are not always the result of things you may or may not be doing. If you have taken steps to try to get rid of pain or other trouble and nothing has worked, it’s time to get us involved. There may be something going on that you are either unaware of or can’t control, and we can get to the root of it.
With that out of the way, let’s go into some dos and don’ts.
DON’T Turn the Heat Up on Your Feet Too Quickly
If you have been out in a cold situation all day, your first thought might be toward zooming to the nearest heater or fireplace and placing your feet as close to the heat source as you can get! That’s not a great move, though.
Making the temperature of your feet fluctuate that quickly can cause severe dilation of the tinier blood vessels you have there. In some cases, this can cause some bruising, minor internal bleeding, or even itchy, painful lumps known as chilblains.
When you want to warm up cold feet, do it more gradually. Put on some slippers or other warm indoor footwear and move around some. That will increase circulation and help your feet acclimate much better.
DON’T Use Scraping Tools Against Your Feet
You know those tools that look kind of like cheese graters that some people say are fantastic for getting dead, thickened skin off your feet? Yeah, don’t use those.
Any sort of tool that scrapes or uses a type of blade against your feet is risky. Those sharp edges don’t know the difference between dead skin and healthy parts of your foot you’d like to keep. It’s easy to go too far and open yourself up to sores and bleeding, which in turn opens you up to infections by fungus and bacteria. Going too deep is also simply a ticket to a world of pain. There’s a reason these kinds of tools are banned for salon use in many states!
When you want to exfoliate your skin, think more of a gentler buffing than a harsh grating. A pumice stone can be a good tool for buffing down thickened skin and calluses without much risk. Just remember that to be gentle and only buff a little bit off at a time. If you’re trying to grind your calluses off entirely in one go, you’re doing it wrong.
DO Take Some Effort to Wash Your Feet
Many people go with a “trickle down” theory of washing their feet. If they soap themselves up higher and let that water run down them in the shower, their feet will get clean in the process, right?
Not so much.
Feet should be cleaned gently yet thoroughly—tops, bottoms, and between the toes. Once out of the shower, make sure your feet are fully dry before putting on socks and shoes. Keeping feet clean and dry will help prevent fungal infections that cause athlete’s foot and crumbling yellow nails.
DON’T Try to Clip Off Ingrown Toenails Yourself
It can be very tempting to want to get rid of an ingrown toenail by going in there and clipping the offensive portion away, but this isn’t always a clever way to go about it.
The clippers we tend to use at home (as well as any other makeshift tools you might feel like trying) are not often up to the task at hand, and using them to poke around your nail can often increase pain and inflammation while simultaneously increasing infection risk. It is also possible that you may leave part of the nail still in the skin, unseen.
If an ingrown toenail is minor, a better approach is to soak your foot for up to 20 minutes a few times each day, coax some floss or cotton beneath the edge of the nail, and apply some antibiotic ointment and a bandage. If your ingrown nail is more severe, very painful, or is showing signs of infection, however, it’s better to give us a call and have the problem professionally treated.
DO Keep Your Footwear and Foot Size in Check
We likely don’t have to tell you that shoes and boots eventually wear out. It’s worth checking your shoes periodically for signs of wear and replacing them as necessary.
However, adults tend to drop off on checking their foot size once they get through their teens. While it’s true the bulk of growing has finished, that does not mean our feet still don’t change as we age. The truth is that they can, and it can be enough to make the shoes we think are the right size end up too big or too small instead.
Get your feet measured once a year in adulthood, usually at the same time you’re looking for new shoes. It’s quick, easy, and will keep you on point when it comes to tracking changes.
DO Reach Out to Us When You Have Problems or Questions
We mentioned earlier that you should come see us in Medford when problems refuse to get any better, but don’t hesitate to reach out to us when you have questions about foot care or just see something you think is worth checking out. We’ll be happy to discuss it with you and schedule an appointment if necessary.
Give us a call at (541) 776-3338 or fill out our online contact form to reach our office. We’ll be happy to hear from you!