When I consider the frequency with which I use my feet on a daily basis, I marvel at the fact that they have even lasted this long. Think about it – from the moment you wake up, unless you are sitting down, you are on your feet. While other body parts are only used occasionally, your feet consistently play a key role in every journey you take. They are certainly more capable of taking a beating than other parts of your body, but that isn’t to say they aren’t complex and delicate. The foot is made up of twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints, forty-two muscles, and more than fifty ligaments. All of these components must work in harmony to keep you moving, but with so many moving parts, problems are bound to arise.
I seem to have inherited all of my mother’s foot problems. I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about this because now that I no longer rush to the doctor at the slightest hint of trouble, I have resorted to using my brain (rather than my wallet) to combat these problems. In the past when I have had issues with my feat, seeking immediate relief, my first stop was to either the podiatrist or the drug store. There is a cream or a lotion to cure all – available both at the podiatrist’s or your drug store, but by and large most of these products contain harsh chemicals that have no business on any part of your body. Luckily, there are ways to deal with the five most common foot problems naturally. Ignoring them will only make the problem worse, and you will probably be in a great deal of pain if you let it go too long.
Corns and Calluses
Like all calluses, those on the foot form when the skin is repeatedly rubbed against by shoes or other type of footwear. In response to the friction, the skin becomes hard and thick in the affected area. They are harmless on their own, but neglect could cause infections to develop inside them. Corns are a specific type of callus that forms from a certain elliptical motion of pressure or rubbing. They are more raised in the center, so treating them immediately is important as they can cause more serious ulceration.
Never try to cut off your corns or calluses on your own because they will become infected. Instead, make sure the cause of the friction is removed. If your shoes rub against your foot in one area, it means that they don’t fit properly. Try on new shoes and make sure the footwear does not touch the areas with the corns or calluses. If new shoes are not an option, wrap your corns or calluses in bandages before putting on your shoes to provide padding and protection. They should start to go away when the source of friction is eliminated. However, always take the bandages off when you don’t need them, because the lack of air could breed infection.
Since the cause of bunions is mainly skeletal, there is no way to completely cure this condition without surgery. A bunion is a deformity in which your big toes point inwards towards your second toe. If you have bunions, the joint next to the ball of your foot is probably large and protrudes more than that of other people. Since this bump is enlarged, it often causes discomfort, blisters, and irritated skin at the joint. Some studies show that bunions are genetic, while others prove that bunions can form as a result of poorly fitting footwear early in life as feet are growing.
Without surgery, you can only treat the symptoms of bunions. However, the treatment options are simple and will help a lot if you are having trouble. First, buy wider shoes. The friction from your footwear probably causes most of your pain, so shoes for wider feet will help reduce that friction. You should also try wrapping up the bunions in bandages before long journeys on your feet to reduce rubbing. Icing the bunions before long journeys can also help reduce their size if they’re swollen at all.
If I had a dollar for each time someone advised me to use a pin to pop my blisters, I would be rich, but I would also have an infected foot. Popping blisters is actually contraindicated, as doing so can allow bacteria to enter the open wound. The bubble that forms around the blister is protective, so popping it reduces your body’s line of defense. We all know that blisters form from wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or when feet swell in properly fitted shoes, so prevention is the best way to deal with them. It is important to be fitted properly for shoes. We assume that as we stop growing that our feet don’t change. This isn’t the case. Age, weight gain or loss, pregnancy, and menopause can all change the size of our feet. You might assume your shoes fit because the same size fit before you lost or gained that weight. Don’t assume, but if you do, those blisters will remind you to get your size checked.
Frequent exercise, such as working on a farm and hunting, can cause feet to swell. Rubbing petroleum jelly over the entire foot (with special attention to areas you normally see blisters – little toe, second toe, ball of foot, Achilles heal) will prevent blisters from forming no matter how swollen your foot gets. I can attest to this prevention, and it is one that I swear by. A number of years ago, I walked sixty miles over three days for charity. During training, although my sneakers were comfortable and fit well, they would rub against my foot because my feet swelled in the heat. Someone suggested rubbing Vaseline on my feet before a twenty-mile training walk, and it worked. During the actual charity walk, I saw numerous people being treated for multiple blisters, which can be extremely painful. On the drive back home, I examined my feet and didn’t have a single blister.
Don’t Ignore the Seriousness Of A Blister
However, when they do form, clean the area thoroughly so that when the bubble pops naturally, germs will not be waiting to get inside the skin.
Blisters on their own are harmless, but when they become infected, they will quickly become serious. If you notice that the skin around your blister becomes hot and swollen, it has become infected. Clean the area thoroughly right away. If you notice the redness spreading away from the blister in a spider-like pattern, it has spread to the bloodstream and you need to seek medical attention immediately. Without treatment, the infection could require amputation and could even be fatal.
Hammertoe is a condition in which the toes are bent or crossed in odd positions because of the repeated wearing of ill-fitting shoes. When you look at some of the pointy stilettos that women wear, it is no wonder such conditions exist. However, hammertoes can even form from wearing sneakers that are a size too small. If your hammertoes are severely misshapen, they probably rub against all of your footwear and cause calluses and painful blisters. Once you already have hammertoes, the only treatment is to wear looser shoes and wrap your foot in bandages if you know you’ll be walking for a while. This will at least reduce friction. Otherwise, the only form of treatment is prevention, so never let a pair of shoes that are too small become your favorite pair.
The proper name for this fungus is tinea pedis, but it is aptly called athlete’s foot because of how frequently athletes fall victim to it. The fungus likes to grow in warm, dark, moist areas, so sweaty or damp toes that are enclosed in shoes provide the perfect fungal breeding ground. It is usually a scaly, white rash that is itchy or painful, and it often produces a foul odor. If you notice athlete’s foot forming at your feet, be careful not to let it spread to other parts of your body. Though the name is specific to the foot, the fungus (sometimes known as ringworm) can actually grow anywhere.
The good news is that while there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription treatments for athlete’s foot, there are several natural remedies that are equally effective, if not more so. According to numerous studies, one of the most important steps you can take to treat a case of athlete’s foot is to keep your feet as dry as possible. This means putting your socks and shoes aside if at all possible and sticking to open-toed sandals, as they will not only stop your feet from sweating but will expose them to plenty of fresh air. Now that fall and winter are upon you, you may not be able to wear sandals, but as soon as you come in from working outside, wash “your tired dawgs,” towel dry them (don’t allow them to air dry), and put them in cotton (breathable) socks. If you can stand it, try walking around your house barefoot for a while before covering your feet up.
Along with this, many naturopaths and homeopathic doctors recommend treating the affected areas with products such as tea tree oil, grapeseed extract, and plain yogurt. In order to treat your athlete’s foot, you simply apply a light coat of one of these products to the affected area two to three times per day. Continue to do so until all signs of the fungus have been gone for at least two weeks before discontinuing the treatment. As a side note, you will find that each of these treatments can also be used to clear up nail fungus in both toenails and fingernails. Be sure to use 100 percent tea tree oil or grapeseed extract from a reputable source for the best results. While using these remedies, continue to wash and dry your feet as frequently as possible.
You Know What “They” Say About Prevention
While there are a number of natural treatments, the best way to take care of each of these foot problems is to prevent them by wearing properly fitting and dry shoes. If your shoes are even the slightest bit too small or too large, they could cause serious damage to your feet, and treating any foot problem is a hassle and can be costly. Instead of treating these problems when they arise, be proactive in preventing them by always wearing shoes that are comfortable, dry and appropriate for the activity in which you are partaking.
©2012 Off the Grid News