Seniors are particularly susceptible to foot-related injury. By following some simple guidelines, however, you can help ensure your ongoing good health.
Aging feet tend to lose protective fat. Add the effects of prolonged sun damage, and your feet can become wrinkled, leathery, and prone to lose their natural elasticity. Many commercial creams are water-based; they feel good when you use them, but as the water becomes absorbed into your body, the dryness returns. Over time, water-based lotions do not help.
By way of solution, check the label of any foot lotion you purchase. If the basic ingredient is water, pass that one up and go for an emollient instead. Eucalyptus oil is said to bind water, soothe and detoxify, all at the same time. Other emollients that contain lanolin, coconut oil, shea butter or squalene are good choices.
Pay attention to your feet each day. Wash with tepid water, not hot. Apply emollients afterward (within about 3 minutes of washing) to maximize the effects. Hot water will dry your skin further, as will vigorous rubbing with a towel after washing. Pat your feet dry. Avoid leaving moisturizing lotions between your toes. Top off your daily care with a quick inspection: look for cracks, skin injuries or bruises, or signs of infection that might demand the attention of your podiatrist, especially if you suffer from a circulatory problem or diabetes.
Paying attention to your feet means more than washing them. It also means minding your posture while sitting. Try not to compromise the circulation to your feet by crossing your legs when you are sitting for a prolonged period. Avoid tight socks and hose that constrict your blood flow. Put your feet up. Improve the circulation to your feet by elevating them above the level of your heart if you must sit for a prolonged period.
Wear sandals, trim your toenails straight across, and make sure your shoes give you plenty of toe room (3/8 to ½ inch longer than your longest toe). Use an emery board instead of clippers if you have any circulatory problems to avoid nicking yourself.
1. Fungal or bacterial infection – Your toes can be victims of both bacterial and fungal infections, which are much easier to prevent than to treat. If you suspect you have an infection of either kind, visit your doctor within two weeks. Wear clean, dry socks, and don’t go barefoot in public places where bacteria and fungi flourish.
2. Corns – These are the foot’s response to repeated pressure in one area. Over-the-counter corn remedies remove the skin but don’t treat the problem. See your doctor for a long-term solution.
3. Ingrown toenails – Sometimes, a toenail (most often on one of the larger toes) can cut into the skin. Prevention includes cutting the nails straight across instead of tapering them at the edges. If ingrown toenails are a problem, your doctor or podiatrist can help you by removing the part of the toenail that causes the problem.