The warm, sunny weather in March has already had some people out in shorts and sandals.
Whether exposed in open footwear or encased in closed shoes), you need to minimise potential abuse to your feet. Contrary to winter, feet are more susceptible to problems in the summer.
Common foot complaints
Here are some traditional foot issues and our take on how to manage them, ‘home or away’:
The problem: Fungal infections
Athlete’s foot is one of the most common fungal infections. It causes flaky, red skin with white cracks that can be agonizingly itchy. Fungal infections in the nails can also cause problems and shouldn’t be ignored as, if left untreated, they can spread to other nails.
· Anti fungal treatments
· Soak your feet in Tea Tree oil
· Use antibacterial wash such as Hibiscrub®.
· Consult pharmacist for other over the counter treatments
You only need to visit your GP or a podiatrist if your Athlete’s foot persists or is causing you wider discomfort or other foot problems.
The problem: Ingrown toenails
This is a painful condition when the toenail has grown into the skin on the side of the nail bed. It can become infected.
It is best to seek professional help from a podiatrist who can remove the spike of the nail and cover it with an antiseptic dressing. In extreme cases, antibiotics and nail surgery may be required.
The problem: Corns and calluses
Corns are small but painful areas of thickened skin that are caused by repeated pressure on the area, such as from socks and tights or badly fitting shoes. Foot position and/or how you walk can also contribute. Heredity may also play a part.
Calluses usually occur on the sole or heel of the foot. Corns and calluses are symptoms of an underlying problem. You should only self-treat (using Compeed© for example for corns) if you know the cause and you've spoken to a specialist about the best way to manage them. Shaving away your calluses on your own may only cause bleeding and discomfort and could lead to infection.
A podiatrist can help to treat corns or badly callused areas using a sharp blade to remove the thickened area of skin. This should help reduce pain and discomfort. Further advice on self-care and prescribing special insoles can also be given.
The problem: Bunions
Bunions are a misalignment of the joint at the base of the big toe. It’s usually genetic, and you can live with it most of the time. Problems are caused when it becomes inflamed and painful, usually at the part where it meets the shoe.
Flat shoes can actually make the problem worse as they don’t provide any support, as can high heels or pointy shoes.
If bunions have become painful then they may require surgery to correct the misalignment.
Verrucae are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The virus invades the outermost layer of skin and causes visible lesions. Our immune system is far more active in the deeper layers our skin, which explains why verrucae are so resilient. The virus is contagious and can be spread.
You can try over-the counter solutions such as Bazooka© or salicylic acid-based treatments, but verrucae tend to persist without professional help.
Betafeet Podiatry offers the following verrucae treatments:
· Salycidic acid (prescription strength)
· Cyrotherapy (freezing)
· Falknor’s Needling (requires surgery consent)
· Swift Microwave Therapy (new): https://www.betafeetpodiatry.co.uk/swift-microwave-therapy-for-verrucae
This list is by no means exhaustive, but there are some other feet health issues to also consider:
DiabetesDiabetics need to be especially careful about their feet; a lack of sensation when, for example, treading on potential hazards, as simple as stepping on a thorn, could lead to life changing complications due to poor healing ability. Aside from daily foot checks, diabetics should not walk around barefoot. Wearing socks and appropriate footwear helps to
decrease the risk of developing blisters and sores, which could lead to wider infection.
This is by no means an old man’s illness or old wives’ tale. Gout can be hugely painful and debilitating at any age. Gout is a form of arthritis and can be controlled by medication or following a diet.
Climate plays a big role for gout sufferers especially when it’s hot and humid, which can lead to dehydration and triggering a gout attack. So think on your feet when venturing out in the summer.
Of course, the best treatment for any or all of foot ailments is to avoid them in the first place. Here are some tips:
· Keep your feet, especially the area between your toes, clean and dry.
· Air and change your shoes and socks often to help keep your feet dry.
· Avoid synthetic socks (nylons) where possible.
· Exfoliate your feet regularly.
· Make sure you wear sandals in public showers or wet areas.
· Stay away from talc on the feet.
· Moisturise your feet daily.
· See a podiatrist when you can no longer self-manage.
June is ‘Feet for Life Month’ and you can find out more information on foot health with free leaflets and tips at the College of Podiatry website: www.feetforlife.org .
We are delighted to announce that prose written by our Practice Business Manager, Reggie Simpson, will be featured in the Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Rhyme & Reason 2018 diary, now in its 26th year. The theme for this forthcoming year’s diary is ‘Freedom’. All proceeds from sales of the diary go to support this worthwhile charity.
Reggie says: ‘Although my entry wasn't among the top poetry and prize winners, I was chuffed to be selected for the 2018 diary. The theme was quite broad, but my degrees in politics and love of writing invariably drew me to entering the competition. In the end I settled on a focus of freedom in healthcare, no doubt inspired by my current employment at Betafeet Podiatry and the noble work of Rennie Grove Hospice Care ( www.renniegrove.org ).
Rennie Grove Hospice Care, formally known as Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, merged with Grove House, St Albans in 2010 to integrate services in south western Hertfordshire. The ethos and values of the two charities were closely aligned with the principle of allowing patients to lead a good quality of life at home for as long as possible, helping patients and their families avoid the distress of unnecessary hospital visits whenever possible.
The diaries can be ordered from the Rennie Grove website, payment by debit/credit card. It's part of their annual Christmas/holiday promotion. There will also be copies in local Rennie Grove shops. They are £5 each with additional postage if bought online. Shop locations can be found here: http://www.renniegrove.org/support/our-shops/online-shop/page/2/ .
Here is Reggie’s entry (to appear in the month of September 2018):
‘Do not count the days; make the days count.’
Muhammad Ali. Professional Boxer. Audacious. Charismatic. A winner in the ring.
But even when you have won it all, life throws you a few more punches.
Yes, his name opened doors and wealth, but the bombastic man of his younger years was humbled in later life, and following retirement, he dedicated himself increasingly to charitable work. Parkinson’s was already taking hold.
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the highest honour the USA can bestow. He died in June 2016, aged 74.
Now the news is about boxing helping dementia sufferers.
So what does this mean for freedom? Does getting battered around the head spell freedom and choice? One would say yes; a boxer is free to take such risks. When the consequences deal you a fatal blow as a result, when do you lose your freedom? Is it when you have been reduced to a shadow of your former self, a normal human being, and have to rely on others? Muhammad Ali likely had plenty of resources to ensure his final days would help him on his final journey.
We tend to think of freedom in political terms. It is hard to remove freedom in healthcare from politics. Think NHS reform, among others. Freedom in a healthcare environment means more to the individuals and families when they have life-limiting illnesses and need the care of volunteer-run hospices such as Iain Rennie Grove.
The NHS gives patients the rights to make choices about different aspects of the care they receive, from the different treatment options available. How these are chosen is individual, although for those with life threatening or limiting illnesses this choice will fall on family members.
I quote the following:
‘In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties’.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Philosopher
September is World Alzheimer’s Month.