Our feet take an enormous toll -- carrying us everywhere, stuffed in footwear that may not be good for them and take a regular pounding on a constant basis - yet we don't seem to give them the care and comfort they need. Taking good care of feet and nails is important, not just from an aesthetic point of view but also from the health aspects as well as the mental benefits of good food care.
Some people are lucky to have soft feet that don't need much care but many others have a tendency towards dryness and the cracking and scaling that both summer and winter can cause. Even if feet are naturally in good shape, taking care of them is important so that they look and feel healthy. Here are some ways to do this, and note that diabetes need to consult their doctors about footcare:
Keep feet clean and dry. Moisture is a good friend to the feet in terms of hydration but the moisture that sweating causes can risk bacterial growth or fungus in the feet. After working out or anytime the feet sweat, wash the feet and air them out before changing into clean socks and/or shoes.
Cotton socks are best. Cotton allows the feet to breath. And while many of us love a pair of killer heels, keep them to a minimum where possible -- which can be a tough one for many of us. High heels cause back and even neck pain, as well as hammer toes, bunions and more.
Cut toenails frequently or as needed. Long toe nails can cause injuries and discomfort in shoes. Long toenails will crack and split. Use a nail cutter, and cut straight across to avoid ingrown nails. Keep the cuticles pushed back. Buying a nail care set from a drug store is a good idea, they range in price from about five dollars to more than thirty dollars for a professional set.
There are great natural ways to take care of your skin. Soak fee in warm water for at least fifteen minutes at home using essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, lavender, or lemongrass. These hydrate the skin and lemongrass has cleaning properties. For a natural exfoliant, use sugar. Epsom salts also provide a great preliminary soak.
For hard calluses that sugar can't take away, use a natural pumice stone to take care of cracked feet, especially the heels and something like the Ped Egg also works to slough off the dry, thick skin. Bear in mind not to be too hard on the skin but some feet may need a few minutes extra to ensure smoothness. Use circular motions. Massaging the feet and calves is good for circulation.
One of the best ways to keep feet well-moisturized and soft is a bit messy but well worth it. Slathering the feet with Vaseline (I use the Vaseline with cocoa butter and it smells great) just before going to bed. Cover feet in thick cotton socks and keep them on all night. You will wake up to truly softer, sweeter toes!
If possible, get a pedicure on a regular basis. Ask for gift certificates for holidays or birthdays! Even if you don't want polished and painted toes, a pedicure will ensure cuticles are kept in good shape, calluses are sloughed off, nails are cared for, and you'll get a great moisturizing massage on top of it.
It's also a wonderful hour of rest and pampering -- giving you time to read, drink some tea or just relax. Pedicures range from about $20 for a basic one to $80, depending on the services done.
Make sure the salon you go to is free of health violations, has a good reputation and all staff have current licenses. A salon should use thoroughly sanitized instruments and ideally, staff should wear gloves. Pedicure baths should be scrubbed well between clients and floors and surfaces should be clean and uncluttered. A professional pedicure, when possible, at least once a month will make sure your feet are feeling, and looking, their best.
EmpowHER.com. Skin, Hair and Nails. Can Salons Spread Infection? Charles Downey. Web. December 30th, 2011.
The Herb Companion. Pamper Your Feet, Naturally. Web. December 30th, 2011. http://www.herbcompanion.com/herbal-living/pamper-your-feet-naturally.aspx
Reviewed December 30, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith