Practice Good Foot Care and Spoil Yourself

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Years ago, the thoughts of letting some strange person rub my feet would have sounded absurd. But like many women today, I enjoy the occasional spoils of a pedicure.

Salons once catered to the hands and nails, manicures were done 10 times more than pedicures, 15 years ago. Now 1 pedicure is done for every 3 manicures. Many people say the changing trend in foot care is due to the rapid increasing numbers of women who work outside the home. There's nothing better than a pedicure to help those tired, aching feet.

Pedicures aren't just getting your toenails painted; it's about good foot care in general. Massage to relieve tension, paraffin waxes to moisturize, and exfoliation techniques to smooth dry, cracked skin.

To ensure a safe and effective pedicure, the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society recommend the following:
  • Soak your feet in warm soapy water for approximately 10 minutes, this helps soften and clean skin and nails.

  • After soaking, gently remove calluses with a pumice stone or emery board. This gets rid of the dead skin cells, too. Never cut or remove calluses with a sharp instrument, leave that to the professionals.

  • Push back the cuticles with an orange stick. Cuticles offer protection from bacteria and infection, so any trimming which goes further than the nail margin or draws blood is unsafe.

  • Trim toenails straight across rather than in a curved pattern; this helps prevent ingrown toenails. The toenails should be trimmed just enough so that you can see a few millimeters of skin just beyond the nail margin. Nails should never overhang the edge of the toe.

  • Apply a foot-formulated cream or moisturizer to the skin and nail margins.

  • Massage the cream or lotion into the feet.
  • Hint: a great at home foot massage, roll your foot back and forth over a rolling pin
  • Apply nail polish remover to the nails to gently remove excess lotion

  • Polish with base coat, one to two applications of color, and clear top coat
Although, medical professionals recommend spacing pedicures at least 8 weeks apart, there are daily foot hygiene rituals that women need to perform, as well.
  • You should inspect your feet for signs of reddening or discoloration, blisters, cuts, calluses, infected toenails, or other irritations.

  • Promptly attend to skin problems, such as cracking or dryness

  • Feet should be washed, a fine pumice stone or fine brush can be used to remove dead skin

  • Then rinse and dry thoroughly

  • Apply a moisturizer or lubricant to dry skin
There are many conditions that women need to familiarize themselves with concerning their feet. Conditions that can cause pain and discomfort. Knowing what to do to prevent these conditions and treat these conditions are a must for good foot care.

Conditions such as Athlete's foot or other fungal and bacterial conditions occur because our feet spend a lot of time in shoes, a warm, dark, humid place that is perfect for fungus and bacteria to grow. Fungal and Bacteria conditions of the foot can cause dry skin, redness, blisters, itching, and peeling. Treat these infections immediately, either try the over-the-counter medication for two weeks, if that doesn't work seek help from your doctor.

To prevent these conditions, keep your feet dry, especially the areas between the toes. Change your shoes, socks, or stockings often, you may want to dust feet with a foot powder daily.

To eliminate dry skin that causes itching and burning, use a mild soap in small amounts, and moisturize every day. Conditions such as corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure when the bony parts of the feet rub against your shoes. This condition happens a lot when women wear tight shoes or heels. Professionals recommend seeing a professional for removal of corns and calluses, over-the-counter treatments contain acid that destroy the tissue but do not treat the cause.

Bunions develop when the joints in your big toe no longer fit together, as they should. If a bunion is not severe, you may find wearing shoes cut wide at the toes helpful, taping the foot, or wearing pads to cushion the bunion. A doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections for the pain, sometimes surgery is needed.

Ingrown toenails occur when a piece of the nail breaks into the skin, that's why you need to cut your nails straight across, as mentioned earlier. A doctor can remove the part of the nail that is cutting into the skin and this will allow the area to heal.

Another painful condition of the feet are spurs, they are calcium growths that develop on bones of your feet. Often times, standing for long periods of time, wearing badly fitting shoes, or being overweight can make spurs worse. Treatments for spurs include using foot supports, heel pads, and heel cups; surgery is sometimes needed.

Not only is good foot care important to your feet, but also many Reflexologists believe pressure points on the foot correspond to other body parts and ailments. Although no scientific data supports their claims, they believe the ball of the foot has a connection to the lungs, the heel to the lower back, and the "big" toe to the head.

The next time your pedicurist or husband (ha ha) massages your feet, you may want to do your own experiment and see if these claims hold true. If nothing else, it's a great relaxing experience and it's good for your feet!