| || || Combating Foot Odour |
Suffering from smelly feet (bromohydrosis) can be a very embarrassing and a socially isolating problem. There are a great many glands in the feet that secrete fluid containing water and salt; when this perspiration is left confined, not washed off or unable to be evaporated, the bacteria of the skin attack it and produce a malodorous substance.
Causes of Smelly Feet
The most obvious cause of smelly feet is due to poor hygiene practices whereby the individual fails to wash or change socks frequently enough.. For many this is a simple problem requiring simple treatment.
For others however, the problem may be more problematic. Occupations that necessitate the need for individuals standing for long periods of time, or those who wear restrictive shoes or tights/stockings may all find they are more at risk of increased foot odour. Wearing shoes that are made from synthetic materials can increase the fluid produced and do not allow for absorption, substances such as plastic are not helpful in the incidence of foot odour. Some individuals simply produce more fluids than others, therefore more bacteria will be able to build-up, which will turn sour, smelling after time. The amount and type of fluids drank, the external temperature, certain drugs and treatments received and hormonal changes can all add to the amount that a persons sweats.
Treatment of Smelly Feet
Feet should be bathed at least once a day, more if needed, using a suitable anti-bacterial soap. Drying is also important as fluid remnants can collect between the toes and can turn sour smelling very quickly.
Shoes that are ventilated in some way or are made of natural materials such as leather will aid evaporation and absorption. Cotton socks that are not too tight will help to absorb some of the fluid produced.
Use a foot spray, powder or lotion that is specially designed to combat foot odours. Using anti-bacterial shoe inserts will help to fight off bacterial collection.
Toenails should be kept clean and short, which will also help in the prevention of athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections. If any itching or nail discolouration accompanies the foot odour, ensure that it is not because of a fungal infection. These can be treated using over the counter preparations.
If sweating is excessive (hyperhydrosis), and foot odour is very severe surgery may be necessary whereby the surgeon cuts the nerve responsible, this is often a permanent and very useful option. Occasionally electrolysis be used, this is less invasive than surgery, safer but can be expensive and not 100% effective in all users.
Feet should be aired every day at least, if not more often, whenever possible to allow for sweat to evaporate and to prevent bacterial build-up. Change socks at least once a day, and alternate the shoes that are worn daily if possible. Loose fitting cotton socks will help to prevent bacteria and fungus from building up due to perspiration and will lessen the chance of foot odour occurring.
Often a cause of social embarrassment, foot odour can be prevented by most sufferers by making adequate changes to their lifestyle and hygiene practices. Many people do not have to pay much attention to their feet, whilst others will have to find ways of adapting different routines into their life in order to prevent foot odour.
A bone spur which can also be called an osteophyte, is an additional growth of bone that occurs along the edges of other bones. The actual growing of the spur does not cause pain, it is the pressure and sharpness that it exerts on vessels, nerves and surrounding tissues that causes the pain and discomfort. Commonly seen in the joints and areas dense in ligaments and tendons, it is possible for a bone spur to develop on any bone.
What Causes a Bone Spur to Grow?
Although the definite cause of bone spurs is unknown, most experts agree that they have an association with osteoarthritis, especially due to the breakdown and deterioration of cartilage around the joints. Bone spurs are commonly seen in the ageing population, so specialists also believe it is a part of the ageing process, due to changes in the way the body works. Bone spurs also occur as a consequence of other medial conditions, such as plantar fasciitis as a response to the changes in the tissues and the irritation and inflammation that this causes.
Signs and Symptoms
For many people, bone spurs cause no symptoms and are often unnoticeable until an x-ray detects when diagnosing another unrelated condition.
For others, they can actually provide beneficial relief to some conditions as they may help to distribute weight better, or support ageing joints adding stability to the body’s frame. If, however, the bone spur is causing a problem, it is most often some degree of pain or discomfort. Surrounding tissues can become inflamed causing pain, swelling and tenderness. Movement can also become restricted as the spur can interfere with the normal function of a joint if this is where it has developed. The spur can wedge itself in the joint and prevent smooth movements or limit mobility entirely.
Obviously, if the bone spur is causing no problems or acting in a beneficial way, no treatment is necessary and the individual can live quite happily with it’s occurrence for many years. For those in pain however, initial treatment will often include the use of pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications. These can be purchased without prescription from many chemists and supermarkets. If pain is severe however, you may need to see your GP who will prescribe some stronger pain relief and often order an x-ray of the painful area to confirm diagnosis and decide which long term treatment option is preferable.
Surgery may be indicated for some, depending on the location, size and nature of the bone spur. If it directly involves surrounding tissues, nerves and blood vessels, surgery may be more complicated. As they are associated with the ageing process, any underlying medical complaints will need managing before surgery becomes an option, if at all. All of these options will need thorough discussion with the GP and specialist before a decision is made. Surgical procedures may be performed as either an in-patient or as a day patient, depending on the overall health of the patient, and can be performed either through small keyhole incisions, (arthroscopically), or via an open incision.
Bone spurs are often harmless and painless occurrences of bony growth causing no problem whatsoever, but for others, can be a source of great pain and irritation, reducing their movements and affecting their quality of life.
Many people suffer from the sensation of burning feet at some point in their lives. It is most often a non-serious complaint that can act as an irritant and prevent sleep but occasionally it can be a sign of a more serious condition that will need treating. It can be an acute problem, with the sufferer experiencing infrequent or singular episodes, or can be chronic where the sensations are present very often or even constant.
Causes of Burning Feet
People often experience burning or hotness of the feet as a result of being tired or of not taking enough rest during the working day. It can also be caused by common conditions such as athlete’s foot, metatarsalgia or due to a mild allergy to fabric conditioners, detergents or the material of footwear or even simply from ill-fitting shoes. Other common reasons include being overweight, living in hot or humid climates or being stressed, which can lead to feelings of burning feet.
Occasionally it can be the result of more serious medical conditions such as nerve damage to the feet, because of damage to the vessels or nerves of the feet or due to underlying conditions of the blood. Excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption, disorders of the thyroid and severe obesity have also been found to be a cause of burning feet. It is very commonly experienced in those suffering from diabetes and this should be mentioned to the doctor as the diabetes treatment regime may not be controlling the condition as well as it might, and is can also indicate nerve damage that could lead to an ulcer developing.
Treatments for Burning Feet
The simplest treatment is to try and cool the feet by removing footwear and socks, perhaps with the use of cool water or fans to help try and reduce the sensation of heat in the feet and toes. As burning feet can be extremely irritating and distressing for the sufferer, especially if sleep interferences are being experienced, relaxation methods should be sought to try and alleviate some of the distress.
Most supermarkets, chemists and health and beauty shops stock a range of products aimed at reducing the heat found in the lower limbs and feet and many cooling gels can be beneficial in relieving the sensation. If the condition is prolonged or not alleviated by these simple methods, advice from your GP should be sought to determine if an underlying medical condition is to be blamed. A series of blood tests and questions may be required to find out if the burning feet are a symptom of another complaint.
Whatever the reason for the burning feet, rest, elevation, correctly fitting shoes, cotton socks and good foot hygiene practices should help to prevent or reduce the severity of the problem.
Burning feet can be a very annoying complaint for the sufferer, especially if it is a prolonged condition. It is important to try and determine the reason for this complaint, particularly if it has occurred repeatedly or continues continually for a long period of time as it may be a symptom of a serious medical condition that needs treating.
Named after the shape they assume, hammer toes can affect the second to fourth toes on either or both feet. The joint bends, causing a deformity of the toe, and is often accompanied by corns, calluses or other blemishes on the skin.
Signs and Symptoms
Along with the affected toe becoming misshapen, hammer toes can cause pain for the sufferer as the joint may rub on the shoe, pressure can build up in the ball of the foot and other toes, and hard skin may become noticeable on the foot.
What causes Hammer Toes?
The most common cause of hammer toes is due to ill-fitting shoes that are too small and cause the toes to curl up to fit the footwear. Shoes that are too narrow at the toe can also cause the toes to flex into an unnatural position and cause friction to occur on the material of the shoe leading to sores and calluses to develop. Heeled shoes can also play a role in the progression of hammer toes as the cause pressure to build up in the toes and can push the foot forward leading to cramping in the toe area of the shoe.
Other reasons may be muscle related as the muscles surrounding these toes act as ‘straighteners’ to the digit. If the muscle becomes damaged, their function may be compromised and the toe does not straighten as normal. Bunions, flat feet and arthritis all can play a role in the development of toe abnormalities, and these conditions will need treating alongside the deformity to prevent them from recurring.
Preventing Hammer Toes
The most simple way of preventing hammer toes occurring is to always ensure there is sufficient room in the shoe for the toes to assume their natural position. During the summer, sandals are ideal as they allow plenty of room for the feet to spread and be comfortable. The wearing of heels should be kept to a minimum to allow for pressure to be relieved and for toes to have time to relax and spread out.
If you feel you are developing hammer toes, please do seek advice from a reputable footwear retailer who will be able to measure your feet and select shoes that will help to prevent this condition from deteriorating.
Treating Hammer Toes
Your doctor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate form of treatment. This may include the use of cushions and pads to protect the protruding joint or to help relieve discomfort from corns and calluses.
A suitable exercise programme can be useful in helping to strengthen any muscular problems that have led to the formation of hammer toes. The muscles surrounding the toes and immediate area may benefit from being regularly stretched and mobilised to try and encourage the normal position of the toe.
Surgery may be an option in extreme circumstances, and can be performed under local anaesthetic. It will normally involve the surgeon reshaping the joint using carefully selected incisions in the muscle allowing for the joint to straighten.
Hammer toes is a non-serious but very irritating and painful condition that affects many people. Comfortable and sensible consideration of footwear is the best way of treating and preventing hammer toes from worsening.
Establishing a Good Foot Care Routine
Having a good foot care routine should be a staple part of everyday life. Not only preventing infections, the development of ailments and avoiding foot odours, a good foot care routine can actually help with relaxation and encouraging a ‘feel good factor’ about yourself.
Preventing Foot Infections
Hygiene is the most important issue surrounding infection prevention. This not only includes cleansing and appropriate product selection, but also incorporates drying techniques and utilisation of materials. If you tend to suffer from sweaty feet, are on your feet all day, or are required to wear the same footwear everyday, it is advised that a mild anti-bacterial soap is used to clean the feet. This should be done at least once daily and the water used should not be too hot as this encourages dry skin to occur.
Thorough washing between the toes and around the nails and nail beds should be enough to remove any built up grime and sweat residues. If needed, a pumice stone can be used at this stage to remove any dry skin, along with a nail brush to ensure the areas around and under the nail are cleaned adequately.
If you suffer from athlete’s foot, it is essential that the bathing or cleansing area is cleaned and rinsed after use, and that flannels and towels are single use only and not shared among the other household members. Sharing these items can lead to cross infection and spread the condition to others.
Avoiding Minor Foot Complaints
Minor ailments include corns, calluses and in-growing toenails, which can all be minimised or avoided by employing some basic measures into your foot care routine.Corns and calluses can be avoided in the first instance by ensuring that the correct sized footwear is chosen and that socks are not too tight. In the event that a corn or callus does develop, it should be treated as soon as it is noticed. Regular bathing in soft water and the use of moisturisers and hard skin removing devices are often enough to keep calluses and corns at bay. If they do develop and become increasingly painful, a chiropodist will be able to effectively treat and advise on corn and callus treatments and prevention.
In-growing toenails are a common problem, but are often easily avoided. When trimming toenails always use an appropriate pair of scissors or nail clippers and cut the nail straight, in one single action, across the top of the nail. Sharp edges can be filed away, do not try and shape the nail with the scissors or clippers as this can encourage the nail to become in-grown. Nails are easiest trimmed when they have been soaked as they are softer and will cut more easily.
Avoiding Foot Odour
If you are susceptible to foot odour, feet should be bathed at least once a day, often twice is better, using an anti-bacterial soap. Foot powders that aim to reduce odours can be useful as the powder helps to keep them dry, preventing sweat to build-up. Cotton socks and going bare foot when possible will also prevent the feet from becoming too hot and sweating excessively.
Rest and Relaxation
For those who simply want to relax, the use of massage oils, creams and lotions coupled with some basic reflexology techniques can help with overall relaxation. As part of our everyday routine, foot care can help reduce stress, which can help reduce the likelihood of other medical illnesses developing. Our feet are subjected to many years of hard work and enable to carry out even the most basic of everyday tasks and movements. We should look after our feet to the best of our ability so they can continue to serve us well for many years to come.
Feet and Flying
We professionals have our competition through out the year round in different cities and sometimes in different countries. We have to coupe up with our regular full time job as well as dancing our beloved hobby. The quicks way to reach our destination is to fly. When we fly, especially on a long haul flight, the general health, hygiene and comfort of our feet can suffer. This is often due to being confined to one place for so long, being unable to relax and be fully comfortable and because of atmospheric air pressure changes.
Avoiding Swollen Feet
Swollen feet can occur when flying because of two main reasons. Remaining sitting, having little or no movement can cause the feet and ankles to swell as blood and fluids are permitted to pool in the lower extremities. This not only causes swelling but can be dangerous as it may lead to a blood clot developing, which can be life threatening.
The chances of the feet and ankles swelling can be significantly reduced by employing a few basic rules:
- Whilst waiting in the airport, do not remain immobile and ensure that you walk around the airport terminal for as long as possible.
- When on the aircraft, try and stretch out as much as possible, changing position frequently.
- Try doing some basic foot and ankle stretches and exercises every twenty minutes during the flight. These can be as simple as pointing and flexing the toes repeatedly for a few minutes followed by making circular movements clockwise and anti-clockwise from the ankle.
- When able, try and take a short walk around the cabin, this may only be to the toilet but it gives the circulation a push and encourages the pooled fluids to be pumped back around the body.
- Using compression stocking purchased from the chemists may also help to keep swelling to a minimum as these encourage the healthy continuation of circulation.
- Careful selection of foot wear can help to reduce the discomfort of swelling, as shoes with laces and buckles can be adjusted to fit the increased size of the foot if needed.
Avoiding Excessive Foot Excretions
In order to avoid a build up of foot odour, always remember to bathe and dry the feet before leaving for the airport. Make sure you use an anti-bacterial soap and dry thoroughly. Wearing cotton socks will help to keep the feet comfortable and dry and wear shoes that are made of a natural substance such as leather to allow feet to breathe. If you suffer from excessive foot odour normally, try and bathe feet again before boarding. This will allow any built up bacteria to be washed away and allow for feet to cool.
Wear loose fitting clothes including footwear and socks to remain comfortable. Change position frequently and when possible and permitted, stand up and walk around the cabin for a few minutes even if it’s only to take a trip to the toilet. If you must wear heeled shoes, always try and wear a heel no higher than 1 ½ inches and with a wider heel. Feet may be kept cooler if cooling gel insoles are worn in the shoe during the flight. If this option is chosen, make sure the shoe is of a large enough size to accommodate the insole and the foot comfortably.
Flying can be an exciting experience for many people, but can become jaded or ruined by suffering from problems with the feet. This is especially true for those on long haul flights or cabin staff. It is important to be very selective about the choice of shoe worn for travelling and also to give consideration to foot and ankle exercises and how to keep feet cool.
Insoles and Orthotics
For many the pain and discomfort of living with foot and ankle disorders can seriously affect quality of life, but many people do not realise that either medications, surgery or simply living with it are the only options. Thousands of people every year benefit from using either an insole or an orthotic device.
What are Insoles?
Insoles are products that can be made from many different substances such as gel, leather or a rubber mix, that aim to act as a cushion, pressure reliving device, to help manage mechanical disorders of the foot or simply act as a moisture absorber. They are commonly used as arch supports for the condition known as flat feet, can help to relieve ankle sprains and strains and to relieve discomfort of corns and calluses. Many sports people benefit from the use of insoles as they act as a shock absorber for high impact sports, or add comfort to long distance running. For everyday use, they are good for amending shoes to fit, particularly if you are a half size; buying the smaller size will only cause problems such as foot ache, corns and calluses, it is much better to buy the slightly larger pair to allow room for foot expansion when they become hot, and because the size can be amended by using a foot insole.
There are many different types, each having its own properties and function. They vary in price from retailer to retailer, but if you would like to try an insole for supporting flat feet or another condition, please do speak to a foot health expert in order to ensure purchase of the most effective and appropriate type.
What are Orthotics?
Orthotic devices are pieces of equipment designed by professionals, often for the individual, based upon their needs and requirements. There are many different types each aimed at specific problems of the foot, but overall aim to add support and stability for the person.
By using an appropriate orthotic device, the person will hopefully experience less pain and discomfort from their condition along with gaining more confidence with mobility as their lower limbs become more stable. The muscles, bones, joints, and tendons of the foot and ankle all benefit from the use of a suitable orthotic device and many conditions can be aided or the severity reduced by their use.
Orthotics come in a wide variety of shapes and forms ranging from small shoe inserts to correct foot alignment on a small scale, to larger mechanical devices that aim to support the entire foot and ankle. They can be made from virtually any material such as metal, leather, plastic or even a combination of many substances.
Those suffering from arthritic conditions, foot abnormalities and deformities, athletes, those with bunions, corns and calluses or those who simply would like to correct their gait may benefit from the use of an orthotic.
Insoles and orthotics are both ways of maintaining the health of your feet and can be extremely useful if the correct type is selected. Always ask for advice from a professional and research your options before making a purchase as the selection available is quite vast and some can be expensive, especially if they are to be custom made.
Preventing and Treating Hard Skin
Hard skin is a very common occurrence on the foot and is present in almost all adults. It doesn’t often cause pain more slight discomfort, but can appear unsightly and make feet seem unkempt and can promote the development of other conditions.
The foot is put under enormous pressure everyday, carrying body weight, absorbing impact, managing weight change and transfer among other tasks and so has to be durable and resistant to many external influences. It is because of these reasons that the skin on the feet is thicker that anywhere else on the body, and grows skin cells extremely quickly in response to the outside stimuli.
Signs of Hard Skin
The first signs of hard skin developing is the appearance of dry patches on the feet. These patches are usually seen on the heel, ball and side of the big toe of the foot. As it worsens, hard skin can take on a yellowish colour, sometimes seeming grey or light brown and will continue to thicken and harden as time progresses.
Complications of Hard Skin
If hard skin is left untreated and permitted to worsen, it can lead to the development of calluses which can be painful, more difficult to treat and can recur over time. Heels can become cracked and painful, and can sometimes even bleed if they are left without treatment.
Preventing Hard Skin
Hard skin can be prevented by employing a routine, using simple practices. Allow feet to rest and relax by submerging them in warm water regularly. Normally, this can be achieved as part of everyone’s bathing regimen. Sometimes the use of oils or products designed especially for hard skin can be used to help soften the skin for ease of removal later.
Using a pumice stone on the heels, ball and sides of the foot and toes will help to remove any dead skin cells before they are permitted to develop further into unsightly dry and hard skin. Drying the feet properly, followed by application of intensive moisturising creams and lotions will help to keep skin soft and prevent hard skin from occurring.
Those who continually walk in bare feet, especially outside are also more at risk of developing the condition. Feet should be allowed to breathe regularly, but can also benefit from the use of slippers or soft cotton socks.
Treating Hard Skin
There are a great many devices available for treating hard skin, most involving the use of a scraping instrument that aims to remove the dead skin cells. There is also a wide variety of creams, lotions and gels that can help soften the skin before using one of the devices. Pumice stones, are a natural product and can be used in the bath and are useful in that they can be cleaned immediately after each use, as can the foot. Visiting a chiropodist will prove to be very beneficial for most, as these foot care specialists will be able to soften and remove the hard skin more easily and quickly than can be done independently. They can also advised on suitable products and regimes that can be performed at home and will high-light and treat any other problem areas such as possible calluses and corns that have grown, often as a consequence to untreated hard skin.
Hard skin is very common and can develop on any foot. If left it can appear unsightly and lead to calluses that can be very uncomfortable. It is always best to try and prevent hard skin from developing in the first instance, but can be easily treated and removed.
Preventing and Treating Cracked Heels
A source of great embarrassment and discomfort for many people, cracked heels are among the most common of minor complaints of the feet.
Causes of Cracked Heels
A crack, otherwise known as a fissure, is most often due to having excessive dry skin. Many people may simple be more prone to dry skin as the sweat glands in the feet do not produce as much excretion as they once did. Cracked heels are more common in those who spend long periods of time wearing open backed shoes and sandals, so are therefore more commonly seen in women.
Sometimes the person may have a developmental disorder of their feet such as flat feet, an abnormal stride and step pattern or may have heels spurs, which can all cause problems with the heels including dry skin and cracking.
Being overweight or standing for long periods may also contribute to having dry cracked heels, as can smoking and diabetes, which can compromise the oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissues.
Signs and Symptoms
Often cracked heels are simply a matter of being a cosmetic issue and cause no other problems, but for others, especially if the crack has deepened, they can be fairly painful and cause distress to the sufferer.
Normally beginning as dry skin on the heels, the cracks can develop quite quickly. Sometimes they can be felt by running a finger along them, whereas others may notice them when they can hear them catching on the bedclothes or socks. It can be very tempting to try and solve the problem by hand and pick at the edges of the heel, but more often than not this will exacerbate the problem, causing the cracks to deepen and become increasingly sore.
Treating Cracked Heels
There are many products available from supermarkets and chemists that are designed to treat cracked heels. Some of the more reputable brands are very useful for correcting this problem. Using a pumice stone or other piece of equipment made for removing hard skin will prove very useful. Never try and remove the hard skin using other implements such as blades or scissors as this can cause infections and bleeding.
Preventing Cracked Heels
- Try not to have bath water too hot as this can have a drying effect on the skin.
- Apply a good quality moisturiser at least once a day to keep dry skin at bay.
- Using a pumice stone or other device designed for eliminating dry skin can be very useful if a layer of hard skin has developed. Eradicating it before it can progress into cracks should help keep feet soft and smooth.
- For those who like to wear sandals, keep their use to a minimum, and apply extra moisturiser on the days when they are worn.
- If you have any existing foot conditions such as flat arches, wear an arch support device that will help to support the foot at all times.
Although cracked heels are not a serious condition they can be unsightly and cause discomfort for the sufferer. It is always best to try and prevent them occurring by treating hard skin as soon as it appears and by employing methods that will help to prevent the dry skin.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at Salsa TV, Singapore