We all know that personal hygiene is important in everyday life, but are we paying enough attention to our feet? A footcare routine is essential to keep your feet feeling and looking their best and as we age, our feet change and may need more attention than before.
Whatever your normal beauty regime comprises of, it is easy to forget to give your feet the attention they deserve. But it is also easy to change a few habits to keep your foot health in tip top condition. Read on to learn about some common foot health problems and simple steps that you can take to prevent them.
Can poor hygiene cause infections like athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot normally affects those who don’t keep their feet clean and dry, or those who are often walking barefoot in public areas such as gyms, shared showers and changing rooms (Scholl, Undated). Although poor hygiene is not the only cause of athlete’s foot, not caring for your feet can make problems worse. If you don’t dry your feet properly, then the warm, damp area between your toes creates the perfect breeding ground for the fungus to grow and allows it to infect a larger area quickly. If you have the infection, you’ll notice sore, itchy skin between your toes that is red and flaky, and covered in small blisters.
How to beat athlete’s foot
Athletes foot is very infectious so can spread quickly, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of passing on the infection. Always wash your hands after contact with your feet, wear clean socks made from breathable materials like cotton, and don’t share shoes with anyone. If you are at the gym or pool, make sure you don’t share towels, and always wear flip flops or sandals in communal areas to prevent the infection spreading (Healthline, 2017).
Athlete’s foot can be treated at home using products such as the Scholl Pen and Spray. This set allows you to treat the infected skin with the pen, whilst also providing a prevention spray to help cleanse your shoes to prevent reinfection of the fungus. Make sure you clean around the affected area before applying your treatment and continue using even when the rash has gone to ensure the fungus has definitely been removed.
What causes smelly feet?
Smelly feet are not only unpleasant for you, but they can also cause embarrassment. Although everybody’s feet sweat, the sweat itself is not the cause of the common smelly foot. The smell forms when the bacteria on the skin starts to break down the sweat as it comes through the pores, creating a not-so-pleasant odour (Web MD, 2017). Although sweating is something all of us do, some people naturally sweat more than others. There are also more sweat glands on your feet than any other part of the body, so it’s understandable why our feet get sweaty so quickly.
How to prevent smelly feet
If you want to prevent smelly feet, there are a few simple steps you can take. It is important to only wear shoes that are fully dry and not wear the same pair day after day. Feet can become smelly if sweat soaks into the shoes and you then wear them again before they have time to dry (Web MD, 2017). If you are prone to hot, sweaty feet make sure you give your shoes at least 24 hours to dry naturally before wearing them again.
You can also wash your feet every day to remove built up bacteria and dirt, then dry them properly to remove any left-over moisture. You should also ensure that you change your socks daily so that they are fresh (NHS, 2016).
You can improve your foot health and smelly feet by using sprays that will help to reduce the amount of sweating. This could be specialised foot deodorant and antiperspirant or simply the one you would normally use on your armpits (Prevention 2014).
Will bad hygiene cause warts and verrucas?
Warts and verrucas are extremely common, especially with children and teenagers. Most people will experience them in their lifetime, or know someone that has had one (NHS, 2016). Warts and verrucas are an infection caused by 100 different strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This common virus creates an excess amount of a hard protein called keratin, which then develops in the top layer of the skin, and creates the wart or verruca shape (NHS, 2016). Verrucas are only found on the sole of the foot and are usually flat compared to warts, which are raised from the skin.
Foot hygiene isn’t the direct cause of warts and verrucas, but you can take care to avoid them spreading further. Wash your hands after you have touched the infected area, cover warts and verrucas where possible and regularly change your socks. The virus that causes warts can easily spread through direct or indirect contact; for example, a simple handshake or using the same towel. Verrucas are more easily spread on the surface of wet communal areas such as swimming pools.
Can warts and verrucas be removed?
Although warts and verrucas can disappear on their own, you can remove them yourself using a DIY home wart and verruca removal kit. This Scholl treatment is based on the liquid nitrogen freezing method that is used in hospitals. It quickly freezes the wart or verruca and after 10-14 days, the wart or verruca will fall off and there will be new skin underneath. The infected area may need multiple treatments depending on size and shape of the wart or verruca.
A guide to fungal nail infections
A fungal nail is one of the most common foot infections and it isn’t a pleasant one to have.
It’s a fungus that thrives in warm, dark and damp areas and is extremely contagious. It begins as an overgrowth of fungi in, on or under the nail which can come in two main forms; Distal Subungual Onychomycosis (DSO) or White Superficial Onychomycosis (WSO).
DSO is the most common type, which infects the skin under the nail bed. This can make the nail turn a yellowish-brown colour which then becomes weak and brittle and it may crumble away from the toe. WSO affects the top layer of the nail, and you will notice white chalky patches appearing, but the nail will not crumble.
How to treat and prevent fungal nail infections
More than one in five people are embarrassed by their fungal nail and feel so self-conscious that they refuse to walk barefoot in their own homes (Express, 2016). Luckily, fungal nail infections can be easily treated at home without going to your GP. Scholl Fungal Nail Treatment is an easy to use two-step process, with a file to roughen the nail so the medicated liquid can get deep into the nail bed to treat the infection at the source.
The best way to prevent a fungal nail infection is to regularly check your toes for any early signs such as discolouration or peeling nails. Wearing well fitted, comfortable shoes that allow your feet to breathe, as well as taking time to properly dry your feet after a shower or swim, will help to keep your feet healthy and prevent infection. As fungal nail is so infectious, you should avoid communal areas like pools or the gym until the infection has completely cleared (Scholl, Undated).
If you want to avoid these ailments in future, it’s important to add footcare into your daily routine. Look after your feet and make sure you regularly check them for the early signs of any infections. Healthy feet will be able to fight off infections better than unhealthy feet and will ensure your feet feel beautiful all year round.
Business Insider (2017) You shouldn’t wear the same pair of shoes every day – here’s why
Healthline (2017) Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)
NHS (2016) How to stop smelly feet
NHS (2016) Warts and Verrucas
Prevention (2014) 15 Tips to help with foot odour
Scholl (2017) Fungal nail infection: causes and prevention
Scholl (2017) Scholl Athlete’s Foot
Web MD (2017) Smelly Feet: what causes this and how can I prevent it?