201205-beauty-feetThey carry your weight, take you everywhere you want to go and have the potential to look beautiful if treated and dressed well. Even so, many a time we neglect them only to pay them some attention when they are tired or hurt. Given their long years of service, our feet ought to be pampered at every available opportunity.

For all the work they do, almost on a daily basis, our feet need to be well taken care of; otherwise they will not be in a position to provide the necessary support needed by our bodies. Our feet are prone to a number of problems when neglected. The following are some of them.

Hard skin and calluses. These are caused by inappropriate footwear, poor posture and the general wear and tear of the feet, which causes the skin on the feet to form protective layers that eventually become thick and leathery if further overlooked. This problem may be aggravated by excess weight, which prevents the dead cells on the soles from being shed as they normally would.

Smelly feet. Each foot has more than 250,000 sweat glands making your feet some of the most heavily perspiring areas of the body. Sweat is basically just salt and water, meaning that it doesn’t have a distinctive smell of its own. The smell is actually caused by bacteria on our skin that is attracted by the sweat, then feeds and excretes waste that has a strong odour. In addition, the sweat excreted by our feet cannot easily escape into the air like the sweat from other parts of the body, for instance the hands. It collects on our skin and is released when we take off our shoes.

Dehydration. This is caused by a natural drop in the skin’s natural moisture or by a skin condition. The skin on the soles of our feet is thicker than on any other part of the body. As a result, it is easy for it to become dry and hard because as we age there is a reduction of moisture levels in our bodies. In severe cases it may result in cracking and bleeding.

Keeping your feet healthy

You may never have perfect or flawless feet. However, it is possible to have healthy, well-maintained feet by following a few guidelines.

Wash your feet daily. The feet are exposed to a lot of dirt on a daily basis. If you don’t take a shower before you sleep, ensure that you wash your feet. Make it part of your nightly routine. Soap your feet in warm soapy water, paying extra attention to the spaces in between your toes, then rinse. Wipe the feet gently with a towel afterwards, also ensuring that you dry the area between your toes. Aside from being a mark of good hygiene, doing this would ensure that you do not step onto your bed with dirty feet. This prevents you from bringing dirt and germs to your place of rest and relaxation.

Exfoliate your feet as often as possible using a loofah or an abrasive scrub. Apart from refining your feet by dispersing stagnated pigmentation around joints, it also gets rid of dead skin. The harder skin found on your soles and heels may be tackled with a pumice stone after soaking the feet in warm water.

Moisturise your feet with a good foot cream that has anti-bacterial or anti-fungal properties especially if you usually suffer from smelly feet.To achieve soft, moisturised feet, rub on some lotion or petroleum jelly after washing your feet before bed, and slip on some socks. When you wake up in the morning your feet will be soft and free from dryness. However, remember to never let the area between toes become over-moisturised as this may cause fungal growth.

Exercise your feet muscles regularly. Move your ankles up and down and in and out to improve blood flow in your feet and legs. Spread and wiggle your feet to increase blood circulation. Walk as often as you can.

Stimulate blood circulation in the feet by massaging them regularly. Massage each of your toes holding, them between your index finger and thumb for one or two minutes per toe. Soaking your feet in a salt bath once a fortnight also improves blood circulation and reduces the build up of dead cells and also controls growth of bacteria.

Visit a salon that observes and maintains good hygiene standards for a pedicure once in a while to get professional feet treatment.

Ensure your shoes are comfortable and have enough room for your toes. The shoes you wear every day can affect the health of your feet, knees and back, all the way up the spine. Choose a quality pair of shoes that provides the support your feet need.

Published in May 2012