Did you know that April is National Foot Health Awareness Month?
The timing is just right, given that many people (but not our patients!) tend to ignore their feet over the long winter. But open-toed shoes and sandy beaches are just around the bend…
Read on to learn more about how to nip your smelly feet in the bud before gassing everyone out on vacation and how to easily get rid of those winter calluses. I’m also sharing some insider tips on what your feet may be telling you about your overall health – from cracked heels to the color and texture of your toenails.
Here’s to fun in the sun and healthy feet that are ready to party all summer long!
Dr. Miguel Cunha (AKA Dr. Gotham)
P.S. Have you made an appointment for your spring foot “check-up” at our NEW, expanded Midtown office? Click here to schedule your visit.
This is embarrassing, but I’ve suffered from smelly feet for as long as I remember. When I purchase new shoes I only get a few wears out of them before my feet start smelling again. What am I doing wrong?
Sincerely, Stinky Feet in Soho
Dear Stinky Feet,
Foot odor is primarily caused from of a lack of ventilation of foot perspiration. Feet get smelly when the perspiration has nowhere to evaporate. Sweat itself does not in fact smell. The familiar smell of stinky feet, comes from normal skin bacteria breaking down the secretions released from the sweat glands in our feet and producing Isovaleric acid, causing the odor. Smelly feet can also be caused by fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot.
Other factors that can cause foot odor include poor hygiene, certain medical conditions such as bromhidrosis (excessive sweating), certain medications, harsh environments such as construction work, wearing poor-quality shoes (that contribute to bacteria growth) and wearing over expired shoes.
To help eliminate this odor, I suggest you do the following:
Wash your feet with Dial Antibacterial soap once a day dry and make sure to dry your feet thoroughly afterwards especially between your toes
Rotate your shoes daily so they have at least 24 hours to dry out. Spray Lysol into your shoes at the end of the day when you are finished wearing them. Spray antiperspirant deodorant onto your feet or use foot powder to absorb sweat from your feet.
Change your socks (preferably wool or cotton and not nylon as they absorb moisture better) at least once a day. Some sports socks and medicated insoles are designed to keep feet dry, and you can get special antibacterial socks, which have a deodorizing effect, in your shoes
Avoid walking barefoot in communal bathing facilities and gyms to where most people pick up germs such as bacteria, fungus, and warts. Wear flip flops at all times. If you Yoga, immediately clean your feet with Baby Wipes if you don’t have access to a shower.
April is National Foot Health Awareness Month
Unless we begin to experience some form of pain or unpleasant smell, most of us are content to ignore our feet until something is seriously wrong. Unfortunately, that’s not the best plan for long-term quality foot health.
The good news is that April is National Foot Health Awareness Month which provides us the opportunity to think about ways we can better care for two body parts that do a lot for us – our feet! It also provides the opportunity for me to share a few insider secrets with my favorite patients...
1. The color of your toenails can tell you a lot about your health. There are several things that can negatively impact the color or texture of your nail. Fungus is a common issue that we see. Yellow or brown and thickened nails are signs of fungal nails that can be easily treated by a Podiatrist. But, other colors could indicate larger health issues. For example, a black stripe on your nail could be a result of skin cancer, HIV or Lupus. And a black or purple nail is often a sign of subungual hematoma, a bruise of the nail bed which occurs when the nail is injured and small blood vessels bleed underneath the nail staining it darker. This is caused by trauma to the nail, such as dropping a heavy object or severely stubbing it. It’s important to monitor the color and texture of your nails to ensure they aren’t trying to tell you something more serious.
2. Your dry or cracked heels are an indication of Athlete’s Foot. Many people assume that their feet are just dry and cracked when they are really suffering from Athlete’s Foot. This fungus can penetrate the nail which leads it looking yellow or brown. Treatment generally begins with removing as much of the affected nails as possible by trimming, filling, and mechanically debriding the nail to a more normal thickness and appearance. Medicated antifungal nail lacquer may be prescribed for a localized mild to moderate infection. Prescription oral antifungal medications may be prescribed for a more serious infection. A newer and more effective procedure is micro-drilling. This is a pain-free procedure that creates micro-pores on the nail bed allowing the anti-fungal topical to penetrate into the nail plate more efficiently and effectively attacking the source of the nail plate more directly. Athlete’s Foot should be treated as soon as you notice symptoms. Left untreated it can negatively affect your nails and bones.
3. Flats are not superior to heels. The perfect height is actually 1.5 inches. I typically recommend a shoe that has a 1.5 inch heel or wedge height rather than one that is completely flat as it places less tension on the Achilles tendon and will feel more comfortable. I also recommend avoiding shoes that are completely flat as they will contribute to pronation and collapse of the arch which may contribute to planter and posterior heel pain, shin splints, knee pain, and back pain. Shoes that have an arch incorporated into its design also prove to minimize discomfort.
4. Do not conduct bathroom surgery. Whether you want to pop a blister or take the knife to an ingrown nail, the “do-it-yourself” approach can actually further exacerbate the problem and expose you to bacteria. There are tricks to heeling your feet at home, but using a sharp object is not one of them.
Whatever you do, do NOT remove the top layer of skin from your blister. It will only cause the blister to become more painful and expose yourself to more bacteria which could develop into an infection. Instead, you should lance the blister. Take a clean needle, and poke the blister from the side to drain the fluid. Once the fluid is removed, the pressure will subside. Then soak your foot for 15-20 minutes in lukewarm water with Epsom salt. He also encourages using Betadine to help dry up the blister which will speed up the healing process
While it may be tempting to dig out your ingrown, this can cause serious infections and damage to your feet. Those who suffer from ingrown toe nails should visit their podiatrist to help remove and prevent these issues in the future.
Foot Care 101: How to Treat Calluses
If you’re suffering from thick calluses and cracked heels I commonly recommend the use of a urea 40% gel such as Bare 40 Moisturizing Urea Gel. You should apply this gel evenly on both feet at night, wrap your feet with saran wrap and wear socks to bed. The saran wrap will promote the penetration of the gel into the foot to help break down rough calluses and dry cracked skin and promote smoother and softer feet. In the morning, I recommend the use of a foot file such as the Amope Pedi perfect foot file in the shower to remove the thickened and callused areas of the foot that have been broken down and softened overnight.
Health Focus: Hammer Toes
Hammer Toes are typically easy to identify – the middle part of your toe bends upward while the end of your toe flexes downward typically akin to a hammer. This biomechanical imbalance is a result of both nature and nurture. You can inherit this from your parents, but you can also make it much worse as a result of how you care for your feet.
So, how can you treat Hammer Toes and avoid further exacerbating this deformity? READ MORE.
Product Plug: Apple Cider Vinegar
If you suffer from calluses, an at-home remedy is adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your soak. Combine Apple Cider Vinegar with water and three tablespoons of Epsom Salt, soak your calluses for 20 minutes and apply castor oil directly to the callus for 5-10 minutes before exfoliating with the pumice stone.
Acetic acid is the main component of Apple Cider Vinegar and has keratolytic effects, which basically breaks down keratin the structural material that our skin, hair, and nails, is made up of. Acetic acid helps breakdown thick and painful calluses and unplug blocked pores that may commonly occur on the soles of the feet. Apple Cider Vinegar also contains alpha hydroxy acid which helps balance the pH levels of your skin as it absorb the excess oils of the skin while improving its texture and smoothness. Both acids in Apple Cider Vinegar have anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties which help fight athletes foot, fungal nails, and foot odor causing bacteria.
From collegiate athlete and marathon runner to not being able to walk across a small studio to the fridge. My feet hurt so bad and all I knew was it was in the front/ball of my foot.
Heels were a past time, walking around exploring my own city on the weekends wasn’t an option, and trips to the grocery store were carefully planned & minimal with pain medicine taken in advance.