SOS tips for foot problems

Our feet carry us through the world, in any  weather  and often in tight, oppressive shoes. It is therefore no wonder that they can become ill in many different ways. This often leads to foot problems such as warts on the balls of the feet, foot pain when walking or  athlete’s foot . Read here what you can do for various foot complaints.

Causes of foot sweat

Foot sweat is annoying and often embarrassing because of the cheesy smell. Especially in summer, some people tend to have sweaty feet more than others. This can be a predisposition, but the wrong shoes are also a possible cause.

Selection of shoes and socks

Especially when the temperatures rise, you should look out for air-permeable, breathable shoes for the sake of your feet. High-quality sandals, flip-flops or sneakers ensure a fresh breeze at all times – foot sweat can evaporate immediately. The most foot-friendly material is genuine leather, while plastic is particularly sweaty. 

In winter, the choice of shoes is naturally somewhat more limited. The right shoe soles can help here. Products made of leather or cedar wood have performed particularly well in product tests. Perfumed insoles that   cover the smell of sweat are ideal for summer.

Breathable socks are also important. Fine cotton socks are better than synthetic socks. In addition, changing socks several times a day helps to maintain a permanently fresh feeling. After wearing, socks must be washed at 60°C to kill bacteria.

Sweaty feet – what to do?

Foot sweat is naturally odorless. Only when the  sweat  comes into contact with our skin bacteria does the typical cheesy smell develop. Therefore, spraying the shoe with  disinfectant  can curb bacterial growth in the locked shoe. Alcohol-based shoe deodorants have the same effect.

Another “first aider” for foot sweat is foot  powder.  It absorbs the moisture and on the one hand improves wearing comfort in warm temperatures, on the other hand it reduces the smell of cheese.  

After all, it is helpful against sweaty feet to wear several pairs of shoes alternately. In the meantime, you can put the worn pair outside the door to  air  them out and stuff them with newspaper to speed up drying.

If foot sweat develops despite all measures, an aromatic  foot bath has a  refreshing effect. Important: After the bath, dry your feet properly, including the spaces between your toes.

7 tips for foot sweat

  • Make the right choice of shoes: open-toed shoes or breathable sneakers.
  • Wearing leather or cedar wood soles helps in winter. 
  • Put on cotton socks, change them several times a day if necessary.
  • Use shoe deodorant containing alcohol or perfumed insoles.
  • Spray shoes with disinfectant once a week.
  • Wear several pairs of shoes alternately, allow them to dry and air out in between.
  • Foot baths with aromatic additives have a refreshing effect.

athlete’s foot

Burning, itchy feet and scaling of the feet are typical signs of athlete’s foot. The warm, slightly damp environment between the toes forms the ideal breeding ground for athlete’s foot. Infection occurs through direct contact, for example when  walking barefoot  in the swimming pool or in the public sauna. 

However, in order for an infection to occur, the fungal pathogen must overcome the natural protective layer of the skin. Small wounds thus favor the infection. Immunocompromised people also have an increased risk of contracting athlete’s foot.

If athlete’s foot spreads, toenails and soles of the feet can also be affected. To treat athlete’s foot, antifungal preparations (antimycotics) are used. In the case of mild infections, external application in the form of creams, ointments and powders is sufficient; in the case of severe infections, it may be necessary to take antifungal tablets.

7 tips against athlete’s foot

  • Avoid walking barefoot in public spaces and wear bathing shoes.
  • See a dermatologist at the first sign of athlete’s foot.
  • Regular, thorough  foot care  prevents athlete’s foot infection.
  • Avoid wounds: Comfortable shoes and professional foot care help to prevent the pathogens from entering.
  • Ensure a dry, “fungus-resistant” foot environment: Wear dry socks and breathable shoes.
  • In the event of athlete’s foot infection, regularly changing the towels and socks used and washing the textiles at 60 °C.
  • Antifungals are  medicines  in the form of ointments or tablets that kill the fungus.

blister on foot

A common situation: After a nice hike, you take off your heavy boots and notice a pressure point on your heel. The next day a big bubble has formed – what to do now?

Once the blister is there, you should pierce it. This allows the secretion it contains to drain off and creates the conditions for new skin cell formation. A sewing needle that has been disinfected with heat or alcohol or a sterile cannula from the pharmacy can be used to pierce the blister.

The site must then be protected for optimal wound healing. Blister plasters are particularly good for preventing further friction. However, the patch should be removed at night as air also helps blisters to heal. Smaller blisters can be left, they often go away on their own.

You can prevent blisters by wearing suitable, pressure-free footwear. If there is already a pressure point, a blister plaster can prevent further friction.

5 tips for blisters

  • Wear comfortable, friction-free and pressure-free footwear.
  • Break in shoes before long distances.
  • Use blister plasters when pressure points begin.
  • Puncture existing large blisters with a disinfected needle, leaving smaller blisters.
  • Minimize further friction from band-aids, allow blisters to breathe at night.

Ingrown toenail

Improper or insufficient foot care, nail injuries or shoes that are too tight can lead to an ingrown toenail (lat. Unguis incarnatus). A congenitally wide nail shape can also encourage ingrowth of a toenail. 

The lateral edge of the nail pushes itself under the skin into the nail bed and there is increased proliferation of the nail fold (the skin fold on the side of the nail). This stage is already very painful. The big toe (big toe) is most commonly   affected.

In the course of this, an  inflammation can develop  – the toe becomes red, thick and warm, and pus may be discharged. In severe cases, and especially in immunocompromised people, the inflammation can spread towards the trunk of the body and even cause  blood poisoning  .

Therefore, ingrown toenails should be treated early by a professional pedicurist or – in severe cases – by a doctor.

Treatment of an ingrown toenail

There are a number of conventional options available to treat an ingrown toenail: 

  • Anti-inflammatory  foot baths  make the cuticles supple and counteract bacterial infection. 
  • Special  taping techniques  try to increase the space between the nail and the nail bed. 
  • Nail correction braces  are intended to give the nail a new shape. 

These techniques are mainly used in chronic forms and can be required for up to 14 months.

If these measures are not sufficient or if the toenail is inflamed, often only a surgical intervention can help. Depending on the findings, the nail is cut out in a wedge shape (Emmert plastic) or only the edge of the nail is removed.

4 tips against ingrown toenails

  • To prevent this, do not cut the toenails in an oval shape, but straight and not shorter than the nail bed on the side.
  • When trimming the nails, be careful not to damage the cuticles.
  • Especially in the case of a sugar metabolism disorder ( diabetes  mellitus) or circulatory disorders of the feet ( PAD ), resort to professional foot care.
  • In severe cases, the doctor will have to surgically treat the ingrown toenail.

plantar warts

Plantar warts  only appear on the feet and are one of the most common warts on this part of the body. They are not easy to spot because they can take different forms. Typical is their sharp demarcation from healthy skin and a pronounced central keratinization. They grow inwards and thus close with the skin level. The cone of the horn, which grows inward, causes pain when it occurs.

Plantar warts are caused by human  papillomavirus  (HPV). Infection occurs through direct contact with horny scales, for example in swimming pools or public saunas.

Treatment of plantar warts

Various preparations for local application are available as therapy for plantar warts, none of which promises reliable success. The  active substance  salicylic acid should lead to the detachment of the outer horny layers and thus expose the wart. Acidic caustics destroy the wart tissue as well as the surrounding healthy skin. Cell toxins ( cytostatics ) also kill both wart and healthy tissue.

There are also various physical methods to treat plantar warts, such as: 

  • icing
  • excavation (curettage)
  • Laser
  • desolation
  • surgical excision
  • Photodynamic Therapy

Garlic , celandine or onion extract are described as home remedies with questionable effectiveness  .

4 tips for plantar warts

  • If you suspect a plantar wart, you should see a doctor.
  • There are various local preparations for treatment that are intended to cause the wart to die off.
  • Various physical measures are also available.
  • To  prevent  infection, walking barefoot in public spaces should be avoided.

If you implement these everyday tips, foot problems should be a thing of the past

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