April is National Foot Health Awareness Month.
Your feet play an important role in your daily routine. The average person takes approximately 10,000 steps per day, which is 115,000 miles over a lifetime! Up to 87% of Americans will experience a foot health problem over the course of their lives.
Your feet mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet, so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems. Taking good care of your feet is essential for a healthy, active life.
Keep these foot care tips in mind:
- Don't ignore foot pain; it's not normal. If pain persists, see a podiatrist.
- Inspect your feet regularly.
- Pay attention to changes in color and temperature of your feet.
- Look for thick or discolored toenails.
- Check for cracks and cuts in the skin.
- Be aware that any growth on the foot is not considered normal.
- Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.
- Trim toenails straight across but not too short.
- Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; that can lead to ingrown toenails.
- Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet because they are more prone to infection.
- Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest, and replace worn-out shoes as soon as possible
- Select and wear the right shoe for the activity that you are engaged in (i.e. running shoes for running).
- Alternate shoes — don't wear the same pair of shoes every day.
- Avoid walking barefoot – your feet will be more prone to injury and infection.
- At the beach or when wearing sandals, always use sun block on your feet just as on the rest of your body.
- Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments; self-treatment can often turn a minor problem into a major one.
For optimal foot health, schedule an annual exam with your podiatrist, as well as when any changes or problems arise in your feet. Keep in mind that it is vital that people with diabetes see a podiatric physician at least twice a year for a check-up.