Your feet work so hard every day. With each step, bones and muscles work together to bring you from point A to point B. They also carry the weight of your body and absorb lots of shocks! Because of all that your feet do, it’s safe to say that they deserve some love. Yet, despite all this, foot care is often last on the list. We tend to focus on the parts that people can see, such as the face, hands, and hair. The feet are hidden from the world, so why pay attention? It all seems a bit pointless.
Well, having healthy feet is actually really important, as they’re prone to pain and stress. The skin on the feet also gets less attention than other parts, even though it’s more likely to develop bacterial and fungal infections. Basically, self-care should include foot care. Learn how to treat your feet well! It’s the least you can do for the body parts that let you move around, each and every day.
Healthy, normal skin is home to bacteria and fungi. When you sweat, perspiration mixes with these microbes and releases a nasty odor. What more if that skin spends all day in socks and shoes?1
It explains why feet are usually stinky! In fact, higher levels of bacteria on the foot emit a stronger odor, according to the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Therefore, it’s vital to wash and cleanse feet every day. When you’re in the shower, focus on the feet and lather up. Clean in between the toes, as this area is the perfect breeding ground for microbes.2 3
2. Keep Dry
Washing might be important, but it’s just as vital to keeping feet dry. Dampness is an ideal environment for fungal infections like athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis. Symptoms include itching, redness, cracking, flaking, and pain. To prevent infections like athlete’s foot, keep feet dry. Air them out whenever possible, especially after sweating after exercise or a hot day, and avoid staying in damp socks or sneakers.4
Moisturizing shouldn’t stop at the face and hands. Your feet need to stay hydrated, too! Give them some TLC to prevent uncomfortable dryness and flaking. It’s the best way to avoid painful, cracked heels, a common problem that plagues many people. Not only is it unattractive, but it can really hurt. What’s worse is that the cracked skin can snag on socks. A thick, hydrating moisturizer should do the trick. Lovely options include coconut oil, petroleum jelly, and cocoa butter.
Moisturizing dead skin won’t do much, so exfoliate your feet once a week. This will slough away dead layers and expose new, soft skin. Pumice stones work perfectly. For particularly rough feet, exfoliate with a homemade scrub made of sugar or sea salt with olive oil. Add a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil for anti-bacterial effects.
Every now and then, treat your feet to a foot soak. It will soften skin, soothe muscles, and bring on relaxation. It’s a dream come true if you stand all day at work. All you need is a small tub of warm water, but you can add Epsom salt and essential oils for spa-like vibes. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, dry thoroughly, then apply a moisturizer right after.
6. Wear Socks
Aside from protecting your feet from the cold, socks prevent wear and tear from shoes. They also keep dust, dirt, and grime at bay. In the sun, wearing socks will also offer protection from harmful UV rays. Again, do your best to stay dry. If your socks are damp, change into a dry pair as soon as possible.
7. Wear Proper Shoes
Always wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. Tight footwear can damage the skin, bring on infection, and make walking a literal pain. On the other hand, shoes that are too big can cause injury. Replace old, worn-in footwear as needed. They can’t absorb shock from movement, so you’ll be more prone to injuries like stress fractures. It’s worth investing in high-quality, comfortable footwear.5
|↑1||Sweat. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2||Marshall, J., K. T. Holland, and E. M. Gribbon. “A comparative study of the cutaneous microflora of normal feet with low and high levels of odour.” Journal of Applied Microbiology 65, no. 1 (1988): 61-68.|
|↑3||Foot Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis). U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5||Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle. American Academy of Othropaedic Surgeons.|