KAREN Boughton, who runs her podiatry clinic in Langley Moor, near Durham City, has a way with feet – and some good ideas on looking after them:
If you can comfortably reach your toenails, trim or file them regularly. Cut them straight across and file the corners smooth – not too short and not down at the corners as this can lead to ingrowing nails. If you have thick nails, try cutting them after a bath, when they are softer.
Apply a moisturising cream all over the feet daily (except for between the toes, as these areas should be kept dry to prevent infections such as athlete’s foot).
Corns and hard skin can be kept under control by using a foot file or pumice stone. Don’t be tempted to cut corns yourself and don’t apply over-the-counter lotions, unless prescribed by a health care practitioner.
Feet need warmth, rest and exercise to improve circulation. They also benefit from massage.
Blisters are painful, fluid-filled lesions caused by friction and pressure. Blisters that have not burst should be left to dry out. If they burst, apply a small amount of antiseptic ointment. Either way, pressure needs to be taken away from the blister until it has healed. Cut a hole in a 1.5in piece of felt (available from Karen’s clinic), forming a “doughnut” over the blister. Cover this with a clean dry dressing and tape it in place. Alternatively use a soft gel-type dressing.
If you cannot easily reach your feet or if your circulation and ability to heal is impaired, opt for regular podiatry treatments. New wounds and ulcers should be treated as a matter of urgency within 24 hours.
If you have diabetes, it is particularly important that you check your feet regularly. Seek prompt treatment for any breaks in the skin of your feet, or if you notice any unusual changes in their colour or temperature.
Karen’s podiatry clinic is based at 30b High Street North, Langley Moor, near Durham City. Call 0191-378 9700 or visit karenboughton podiatry.co.uk
Try these daily foot exercises:
1 Keeping your legs as still as you can, write the alphabet in the air, using each foot in turn as an imaginary pencil.
2 Straighten, wriggle and curl your toes around for a few minutes, several times a day.
3 Calf stretches: Stand facing a wall, feet hip-width apart, both feet flat on the ground. Using your arms to lean against the wall, take one leg back and place it on the ground (knee straight, foot flat). Lean forward until you feel the muscles stretching in your calf and heel. Hold for 30 seconds and return to standing position.
Repeat this five times on each leg. Do the same exercise again, but with both knees bent. You should feel the stretch lower down in the calf, just above the ankle joint.
Note – stretching should not be painful.