Your feet take the weight of your body, they carry us around all day long and endure us squeezing them into ill-advised footwear; is it any wonder that one day they just tell you that they have had enough? Whatever happens to your feet impacts upon the rest of your body though, and any problems with your feet can make you walk differently and so you experience pain in your knees, hips and back.
The College of Podiatry carried out some research and it showed that one in five people suffer from foot pain either often or constantly. If your feet are causing you pain, you need to work out why. Is it the high heels you constantly squeeze your feet into? Is it the socks you wear for a few days in a row without washing them? (of course, you would never admit to that one!)
- 1 Tips for healthy feet
- 1.1 Footwear tips
- 1.2 Common foot problems
- 1.3 What are calluses?
- 1.4 How are they usually treated?
- 1.5 How can you avoid calluses?
- 1.6 Home remedies for foot calluses
- 1.7 1. Epsom Salt Soak
- 1.8 2. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1.9 3. Baking Soda
- 1.10 4. Aspirin
- 1.11 5. Bread and Vinegar
- 1.12 6. Lemon
- 1.13 7. Castor Oil
- 1.14 8. Sea Salt
- 1.15 9. Chamomile
- 1.16 10. Pineapple peel
- 1.17 11. Coconut oil
- 1.18 12. Tea Tree oil
- 1.19 13. Aloe vera
- 1.20 14. Oatmeal
- 1.21 15. Sugar scrub
- 1.22 16. Vitamin E oil
- 1.23 17. Garlic
Tips for healthy feet
You might only get show off your feet in the summer, but that doesn’t mean that they should be neglected at other times. To make sure your feet stay healthy, follow these tips for healthy feet:
Keep them clean- Wash your feet every day in warm water with a good cleanser.
Dry your feet thoroughly- Make sure you dry between your toes as fungal infections can develop if you don’t.
Keep them moisturised and remove hard skin- The skin on our feet tends to be thicker than the skin elsewhere on our body. Gently remove hard skin with a pumice stone or foot file, but don’t go too hard or you risk breaking the skin.
Trim the toenails straight across- Never cut your toenails at an angle or too short as you can get a painful ingrown toenail.
Shop for shoes later in the day- Your feet swell throughout the day so you will get a better fit the later you shop.
If you must wear heels, alternate between different heel heights to minimize pressure on the toe joints and the ball of the foot.
Avoid wearing flip flops for long periods as they offer no arch or heel support and can cause problems with the ligaments and tendons in the foot.
It’s a good idea to wear flip flops in communal changing rooms however as athlete’s foot and verrucas are most commonly spread in these areas.
Common foot problems
The human foot is a very complex and strong structure. It is made up of 42 muscles, 26 bones and 33 joints and numerous ligaments and tendons. The foot can bear hundreds of tons of force but this continued stress puts your feet at high risk of injury. The most common foot problems are caused by wearing poor footwear, wear and tear and simply not looking after our feet.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection. The fungus thrives been the toes as it is a moist, warm area. The condition can make the skin inflamed and itchy, and the skin can break and peel. It is highly contagious. You can avoid it by keeping your feet clean and dry. It can be treated with creams and sprays that kill the fungus.
Hammertoes can cause your toes to bend in the middle or cross over other toes. Hammertoes are caused by shoes that don’t fit properly. Orthotics can help move your toe back into position, but if it becomes excessively painful, you may need to have surgery.
Blisters are caused by ill-fitting footwear. The friction caused by the shoe rubbing on the skin causes the skin to release fluid to protect itself, and this results in the painful blisters we have all probably had at one time or another. Don’t burst a blister as you may cause an infection. You can buy special elastoplasts to protect the skin until it heals. If it does burst on its own, clean the area with an alcohol-free wipe then put a plaster on to keep the area clean
Bunions can be present at birth or they can be caused by arthritis but they are most commonly associated with the wearing of high heels, especially if they have a narrow toe area. A bunion is when a big-toe joint sticks out at the base of the toe, forcing the toe to turn inwards. Surgery is the most common treatment for bunions as they can become very painful.
Corns and calluses are caused when a bony area of the foot rubs against a shoe. Corns can occur on the tops and sides of the toes, as well as between the toes. Calluses tend to form on the bottom of the foot. They are patches of hard, dead skin and they can be painful. They should be removed by a podiatrist, don’t attempt to cut them yourself.
What are calluses?
Calluses are areas of hard skin which form due to friction or rubbing of the skin. They can make it painful to walk, depending on where they are located on the foot. Most calluses are caused by shoes that don’t fit properly. High heels are a common cause, as they put pressure on the toes. Wearing shoes without socks is not only unhygienic, it’s also a major cause of calluses.
How are they usually treated?
Callus removal plasters and liquids containing salicylic acid can treat and remove calluses.
Moisturising creams can help soften and remove a callus. After applying the cream, you should cover the foot with a sock or plastic bag for up to one hour, then rub off the callus with a towel.
Surgery can be used to remove a particularly painful callus on the bottom of the foot. But it’s not foolproof, the callus might come back.
If a specialist thinks your callus is caused by a problem with your walking, they will provide you with orthotic inserts for your shoes to correct the issue and avoid further friction and rubbing.
How can you avoid calluses?
Keep your feet dry and clean, and always wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Wear cotton socks rather than wool or other man-made fibres as these can irritate the skin.
Have your feet measured regularly to make sure you’re wearing the right size shoe. This will avoid pinching and rubbing.
Make sure you have room to wiggle your toes in the end of a shoe.
Avoid shoes with pointed toes and high heels as these put a lot of pressure on the foot.
Home remedies for foot calluses
1. Epsom Salt Soak
This will soften the hard skin so you can scrub it off. The salt will stop it getting infected too.
Put some warm water in a tub and add a handful of Epsom salt.
Soak your feet for about 10 minutes.
Use a pumice stone or a soft towel to rub the hard skin away.
Rinse your feet with clean water, pat them dry and apply a rich moisturiser to your feet.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
The acid in the vinegar softens the hard skin of a callus.
Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and use surgical tape to fix it to your callus before going to bed.
Leave it on overnight.
Remove the cotton wool in the morning and rub the hard skin away with a towel.
Apply moisturiser to the foot
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is an exfoliant and the crystals get rid of the hard skin.
Add three tablespoons of the baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak your feet for 10 minutes, then rinse them with clean water. Scrub away the hard skin with a pumice stone or towel.
You can also make a paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Massage the foot with it then rinse and apply moisturiser.
Aspirin softens the hard skin around a callus. It can also reduce pain.
Crush five or six tablets into a powder.
Mix the powder with half a teaspoon of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of water.
Apply the paste to the callus and wrap the foot in a warm towel for 10 minutes.
Wash the foot with warm water and rub the hard skin off with a towel.
5. Bread and Vinegar
Mixing the bread and vinegar to make a paste is effective for softening the hard skin and minimising the risk of infection.
Soak your feet in warm water and rub the hard skin with a pumice stone. Pat your feet dry.
Soak half a slice of bread in half a cup of white vinegar.
Put the soaked bread on the callus and wrap it with a bandage.
Leave it on overnight.
In the morning, remove the bandage, rinse the foot and apply moisturiser.
Lemon juice and the peel can be used to treat calluses. The acid in the lemon will get rid of the hard skin.
Put a piece of lemon peel over the callus. Wrap it with a bandage to secure it and leave it on overnight. In the morning, replace the peel with some new peel and repeat for a few days.
You can also soak cotton wool in lemon juice and apply it to the callus. Leave the cotton wool on the foot overnight. The next night repeat the treatment and continue until the callus is gone.
7. Castor Oil
The oil helps to moisturise the hard, dry skin
Soak your feet for 10 minutes then scrub the callus gently with a pumice stone. Cover the callus with a cotton wool ball soaked in the oil. Repeat this daily until the callus is gone.
8. Sea Salt
The salt is a natural scrub that will get rid of hard skin.
Mix some sea salt and olive oil.
Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes.
Gently scrub the callus with the oil and salt mixture.
Rinse your feet with warm water and pat them dry.
Apply moisturiser to your feet.
Chamomile soothes the skin and is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Make 2 cups of chamomile tea.
Add the tea to some warm water and soak your feet for 10 minutes.
10. Pineapple peel
Pineapple contains enzymes that can break down hard skin.
Apply a few pieces of pineapple peel to the calluses. Wrap a bandage around the foot to keep them in place. Do this once per week to effectively get rid of calluses.
11. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an effective moisturiser which will get rid of the hard skin.
Apply a few drops of coconut oil on the callus, then massage the skin until absorbed. Repeat this for about 5 days.
12. Tea Tree oil
Tea tree oil is antiseptic and antibacterial and it will get rid of the hard skin while keeping it free from bacteria that can get into cracked skin.
Soak a cotton bud in the oil and apply it to the callus. Soak a cotton wool pad in the oil and attach it to the callus with a bandage. Leave it on for a few hours. Repeat this for a few days.
13. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is soothing, moisturising and antibacterial. It will soothe the skin and enable the callus to be removed.
Soak some cotton wool in aloe vera gel and place it on the callus. Leave it on overnight, secure with a bandage. In the morning, rinse the gel off with warm water. Repeat daily until the callus has gone.
Oatmeal is a natural exfoliator and it will get rid of dead skin.
Mix 4 tbsp. of oatmeal and 1 cup of water.
Boil the oatmeal until it forms a paste.
Leave the mixture to cool, then apply it to the callus. Leave it on for about 20 minutes.
Rinse off the paste with warm water. Repeat this every day.
15. Sugar scrub
Sugar scrub will get rid of hard skin.
To make the scrub, you will need:
Few drops of lemon essential oil
1/2 cup of sugar
How to make it:
Mix the ingredients to form a paste. Rub the paste over the callus and massage in. Wash the paste off with warm water.
Repeat this 2-3 times a week.
16. Vitamin E oil
Vitamin E is an effective moisturiser and softens rough skin on a callus. The antioxidants in the oil help heal the callus too.
Cut the capsule open and apply the oil to the callus. Leave it on for a few minutes until it absorbs fully then put a cotton sock on. Leave it on overnight and repeat daily until the callus is gone.
Garlic is used to treat a wide variety of health issues because of its medicinal properties. It has a potent antibacterial action and its antioxidants can prevent infection.
Rub some crushed garlic on the callus and wrap a bandage around the foot to secure it. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next day with warm water. Repeat this every night until the callus is gone.
We may think that all we need to do is apply some nail varnish and it will hide a multitude of sins. But our feet carry us through a lot every day. Working, shopping, exercising-they take a lot of strain and we often neglect them. Until something goes wrong, and we get pain in our feet or in another part of our body. Problems with the feet can cause pain in the knees, hips and ankles, and even in some cases, the back. We need to take care of our feet properly to avoid these sorts of issues. We need to keep them clean and dry, we need to wear supportive shoes that fit well and we need to see a doctor of podiatrist if we suspect that something is not quite right.
Your feet have to last you a lifetime, so it’s worth giving them some proper care. The results of not doing so can lead to painful conditions like bunions and hammertoes or to infections such as athlete’s foot which is very unpleasant.
Calluses are another painful problem caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. The shoes that fashion dictates we should wear are not the best for our feet and we can pay the price with hard skin and foot pain. And calluses don’t make the feet look so pretty either. But they can be treated both by choosing good footwear and keeping the feet clean and dry. There are plenty of effective home remedies for calluses too. They are all very easy to make with ingredients you are likely to have in your cupboard at home and they are convenient to apply. You won’t be applying any chemicals to your already damaged skin, just natural goodness and products with healing and soothing properties. The natural remedies are packed full of skin-loving ingredients to get rid of calluses naturally. After the calluses have gone, continue to look after your feet to prevent them from reoccurring and have happy, healthy feet for the rest of your life.