Happy feet begin with clean and healthy feet. Here’s what you need to know to have clean, healthy, and happy feet every day.
Walking around — whether barefoot or in socks and shoes — causes feet to trap dirt, grime, and bacteria, which can lead to pain and discomfort. If your feet aren’t clean, they simply aren’t healthy — dirty feet are unhappy feet! The key to maintaining healthy feet is simple: Keep them clean. Here’s a list of specific things you should do to care for your feet and the things you should avoid.
What to Do
• Wash your feet in the tub, shower, or foot bath at least once a day. Scrub between your toes with an antibacterial soap. Be sure to spend a few extra minutes washing your heels, ankles, and the sides of your feet to get them thoroughly clean.
• Use a nail brush to scrub away dirt and grime between your toenails and your skin. Lather the brush thoroughly, scrub, then rinse.
• Dry feet completely and carefully with a clean towel. Dry between every one of your toes. This will help prevent athlete’s foot, a fungus that causes itchy, red, flaking skin and can lead to more severe complications.
• Tend to your calluses at least once a week. Use a clean pumice stone to smooth the soles and edges of your feet. This will remove the dead skin, prevent infection and the buildup of harder calluses, and keep the skin from splitting.
• File your toenails straight across so that they’re no longer than your toes, but avoid filing them too short. Use an emery board instead of a metal file, and match the shape of your nail to the shape of your toe. This will help avoid splitting, ingrown toenails, fungus, and soreness. Replace emery boards every other week.
• Trim toenail cuticles with a clean, sharp cuticle nipper. Never pull on loose edges.
• Moisturize your feet every day with an unscented lotion or foot cream. Be sure to massage cream liberally into rough areas.
• Wear comfortable shoes every day that are breathable and will help keep feet clean and healthy.
• Wear clean socks or stockings every day.
• Cover your feet at public swimming pools, gyms, saunas, and whirlpools so they don’t pick up fungus or bacteria from the floor.
• Examine feet for sores, infections, rashes, swelling, blemishes, or corns, and treat them promptly.
What Not to Do
• Don’t ignore your feet when you shower or bathe.
• Avoid wearing other people’s shoes, as this can spread fungus and bacteria to your feet.
• Don’t pull at your toenail cuticles, as this will cause bleeding and infection.
• Don’t neglect peeling toenail polish. Either remove the polish and let them go natural or apply a clear strengthening nail polish to keep them strong.
• Don’t use other people’s manicure tools (cuticle nippers, files, pumice stones, etc.). If you frequent a local nail salon, bring your own tools.
• Don’t go barefoot unless you must.
• Don’t ignore itches or rashes on your feet. Tend to them promptly.
• Don’t wear smelly footwear, as it is likely dirty and a breeding ground for bacteria.
Always remember that clean feet are healthy feet! If you have a prolonged problem with foot odor or athlete’s foot, don’t delay — see your doctor.