Foot health is indicative of the overall health of the body. Feet need to last a lifetime, and many diseases and conditions affect the feet. Tinea pedia is one such common foot disease. This fungus often grows between the toes, and it is caused by contact with damp areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. It is because it is often developed from exposure to these types of environments that the disease earned the name “athlete’s foot”. Itching and burning between the toes, peeling skin, inflammation, and blisters are symptomatic of athlete’s foot. The disease can spread throughout other parts of the body by touch, such as the patient scratching the fungus and then touching another area of their body. The disease is infectious and may be shared by touch or the other person’s contact with infected floor. Once diagnosed, athlete’s foot is treated by antifungal medication, taken by the mouth or applied topically to the infected area. Athlete’s foot can be prevented in the future by following good foot hygiene: washing the feet daily, avoiding walking barefoot, and changing shoes and socks regularly. The patient should also keep their own shower and bathroom floor, places where people often walk barefoot, clean.1 Ingrown toenails are another common foot problem. The impaired growth of the nail, most often the big toenail, could be caused by improperly trimmed nails and crowding of the toes caused by shoes. The nail will grow into the skin, causing pain, swelling, and an odor. Soaking the damaged foot in warm salt water is an at-home remedy that might solve the problem. It is not advised that the patient attempt to remove the toenail themselves. In the future, the toenails should be cut straight across and shoes that fit properly and not too snugly should be worn. If the toenail does not heal with the home remedy, the patient should see their podiatrist for a professional solution. People with circulatory disorders, such as diabetes, should contact their podiatrist right away for an ingrown toenail or any foot injury.2
How Does Diabetes Affect Foot Health?
Diabetes causes foot complications. The nerve damage resulting from diabetes might lessen the feeling of pain, making it difficult to identify injuries in the feet. Additionally, the damage may reshape the feet and toes to the point where therapeutic shoes are advised over trying to force the feet into regular shoes. Diabetes actually stops the production of oil and moisture in the feet causing dryness. Dryness in the feet caused by diabetes can be treated after bathing. The feet should be dried and coated in a thin layer of petroleum jelly, unscented hand cream, or similar products to preserve moisture. Oils and creams are not to be put between the toes because this can cause infection. Soaking the feet will just cause dry skin afterwards. Calluses often form more quickly on people with diabetes. Calluses will eventually turn into ulcers, and these open sores are likely to become infected without being noticed until it is too late. The patient is advised against trying to cut away foot corns on their own without the help of a podiatrist. A pumice stone should be used every day to keep calluses under control. The stone is best used on wet feet and an application of lotion after using the stone. Diabetes also narrows and hardens the blood vessels in the foot and leg, making blood circulation difficult for the body. It is often this reduced blood flow that eventually forces the amputation of the feet. The importance of exercising and regular foot care is stressed because they will help prevent the feet from getting to the point where they cannot be used anymore. Smoking encourages the hardening of blood vessels that are already in bad shape, so those with diabetes should quit smoking.3 Additionally, the patient should never walk bare foot or wear sandals or flip flops. Thick socks are recommended to be worn in the winter so that the feet do not become dangerously cold without notice.4
Poor foot health can be linked to neck, hip, and low back pain. This pain is caused by foot imbalance, which forces the body to compensate and injure other areas. Bad posture is often practiced by those with problems in the foot touch receptors. Neuropathy in the feet could be caused by diabetes, injury, or other disease. Arches in the feet that are flattened, or too high, both put stress on the feet and affect gait. Chiropractic can treat some feet conditions as well as the rest of the body. Readjustment of the areas affected by compensation as well as the feet themselves can provide relief and a starting point for recovery. Additionally, rehabilitation in the form of prescribed exercises performed at home, ergonomic devices at the desk or while sleeping, and orthotic shoes recommended by the patient’s podiatrist can help.5
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