Foot problems are common in old age which usually result from long years of wear and tear, ill-fitting shoes, poor circulation to the feet, untrimmed toenails and sometimes diseases. You can help prevent foot problems by checking your feet regularly or having them checked by a member of the family and a foot hygiene specialist.
Exposure to cold temperatures, pressure on the feet from shoes, long periods of sitting or resting, and smoking can reduce blood flow to the feet. On the other hand, elevating the feet, standing up and stretching, walking and other forms of exercise promote good circulation. Gentle massage and warm foot baths can also help increase blood flow to the feet.
Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes can prevent many foot ailments. The upper part of the shoes should be made of a soft, flexible material to allow the shoe to conform to the shape of the foot. Shoes made of leather allow the feet to “breathe” and can reduce the possibility of skin irritations. Soles should provide solid footing and not be slippery. Thick soles lessen pressure on the feet when walking on hard surfaces. Wearing of high heels should be avoided.
Fungal conditions occur because the feet are usually enclosed in a dark, damp, warm environment. Such infections can cause redness, blisters, peeling and itching. If not treated promptly, an infection may become chronic and very difficult to cure. To prevent infection keep the feet, especially the area between the toes, clean and dry and expose the feet to sun and air whenever possible. If you are prone to fungal infection on your feet, you should dust your feet daily with a fungicidal powder.
Dry skin sometimes results in itching and burning of feet. Dryness can be helped by applying a lotion to the legs and feet everyday and by using mild soaps. Corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure from bony areas rubbing against shoes and can be painful. Curative treatment for corns is surgery. Treating corns or calluses yourself can be harmful, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. It is thus better to consult you doctor for right advice.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. They are occasionally painful and may spread if left untreated. Surgery or burning it off with chemicals is usually helpful.
Ingrown toenails of big toes occur when a piece of the nail pierces the skin and is caused by improper trimming. It can be removed by cutting into the skin and taking measures for healing of the area without any infection. Ingrown toenails can be avoided by cutting the toenail straight across and level with the top of the toe.
Spurs are bony growths developing on the bones of the foot as a result of prolonged standing, having improperly fitting shoes, or being overweight. Treatments for spurs include proper foot support, heel pads, heel cups, drug injections, and occasionally surgery.
Diabetics are particularly prone to sores and infections on their feet. They should be especially careful to avoid extremely hot or cold bath water, to keep their feet clean and dry, to inspect it regularly for any injury or infection and to avoid stepping on sharp objects or surfaces.