What has taken more beating than your feet over a long life of work and activity? They get stuffed into poor-fitting shoes, have things dropped on them, risk damage from going barefoot, or are totally ignored, and they still take you where you need to go and enable you to have fun playing sports or hiking in the hills. Now that you are getting older, some of that use—or abuse—may cause trouble. Aging feet need special care to stay healthy.
Common Foot Problems as You Age
Some things happen in your body as you get older. Your immune system may not be as strong, the muscles may begin to deteriorate, you lose elasticity in your skin, and your bone structure begins to show the stress of time. These can result in several foot issues.
With a weaker immune system, you are more prone to infections. Nail fungus can get invade and turn your toenails thick, yellow, or crumbly. It can also linger between your toes and start a case of athlete’s foot. It is harder to fight bacteria and infection sets in a small cut or wound. You may even be more susceptible to viral infections that cause warts to develop.
Weaker muscles make you less able to move and maintain your balance, leading to falls or other injuries like sprains or tendon damage. Loss of moisture and elasticity in your skin can cause calluses that harden and split, causing pain and opening your foot to infection.
Years of wearing poor-fitting shoes can contribute to the worsening of bunions and other toe deformities, and inadequate support can exacerbate structural problems like low or high arches and result in foot pain. Corns can develop at points of friction, or spurs from pressure and stress on certain spots on your bones.
How to Care for Older Feet
There are several steps you can take to combat these foot issues—either in yourself or a loved one:
- Start with cleanliness. Every day the feet should be washed with mild soap and warm water and carefully dried all over. This helps get rid of viruses, bacteria and fungus.
- Moisturize dry skin. After washing, you can use a pumice stone to gently remove callus buildup. Then apply a good moisturizer to dry places on your feet and ankles to make and keep the skin more supple. Do not do this between the toes, though.
- Keep toenails trimmed. Cut them straight across and not too short to lessen the risk of ingrown nails.
- Keep feet dry. Wear moisture wicking socks and shoes that breathe, so the skin does not stay damp from sweat. Warm moist areas are prime ground for fungus and bacteria. Change socks when they get damp to keep feet dry and warm.
- Make sure shoes fit well. Avoid styles that pinch the toes or cause friction. Check for the right type of arch support, and solid soles that provide the correct tread to maintain good footing (that may vary from carpet to hard surfaces)
- Get a foot stool or recliner. Elevating your legs while sitting can help maintain better circulation, which often decreases as you age.
- Eat well and exercise safely. Nutrition and exercise come with many health benefits for your feet as well as your whole body.
Superior Foot Care in Medford, Oregon
When foot trouble strikes, or to check the health of your feet and be proactive about keeping them healthy as you age, schedule an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. You can reach our office in Medford by calling (541) 776-3338 or contact us by filling out our online form. We’ll help your feet age as gracefully as the rest of you!