Many of us know that many problems of our body are generally related to some of our internal abnormality of body functioning and deficiency. In spite this we just continuously ignore them and thus aggravates the cause of it and unnecessary suffers because of our carelessness and lack of knowledge. Normally care for our feet take a back seat when compared to our other body parts treatment. Lack of good care leaves our feet hard and cracked that result in bunions, infections and ingrown nails. But we must know that the condition of our feet often provides early indications of conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and circulatory disease. We must look out for signs such as dry skin, brittle nails, burning and tingling sensations, feelings of cold, numbness and discoloration and should seek the opinion of a podiatrist (doctor who treats feet) when any of these signs occur so that we can be saved from serious health problems later in life. Causes of foot problems
Foot problems can be mainly due to three reasons: First by not wearing any thing in feet. This lead to worm infestation and dry cracked painful heals.
Worm infestations are generally not noticed but can sometimes lead to many significant problems, which can affect many organ systems especially in the children.
Hookworms enter the body through skin, commonly through barefeet. It may also be acquired by food also and it has been estimated that more than 200 million people are affected in India alone by this worm. Generally such worm infestations cause chronic blood loss and depletion of body'siron stores leading to iron deficiency, anemia diarrhea, vomiting, change in appetite. This can lead to retarded growth and low birth weight babies (if the mother is infected).
Cracked heels are a common foot problem that is often referred to as heel fissures. Cracked heels are commonly caused by dry skin (xerosis), and made more complicated if the skin around the rim of the heel is thick (callus). For most people this is a nuisance and a cosmetic problem but when the fissures or cracks are deep, they are painful to stand on and the skin can bleed?in severe cases this can become infected.
Second reason is not wearing well fitted and comfortable shoes and sandals, mainly in cities tight fitted and high heels footwear causes bunion, corns and calluses leading to painful feet.
Bunion is the common term for a medical condition known as Hallux Valgus. It is the tilting of the toe away from the mid-line of the body. It is usually characterised by a lump or bump that is red, swollen or painful on the inside of the foot and around the big toe joint.
There are many causes of bunions, but the primary one is a tight, ill-fitting shoes, shoes that constrict the forefoot over a long period of time. High heels and constricting forefoot shoe gear are the primary causes of it.
Corns and calluses are the most common conditions on the skin of the foot. A corn, is a thickening of the outer layer of skin, usually occurs on the top of the toes. Calluses are the same condition on the bottom of the feet, are caused by sheering pressures and can occur on the sides, the tips, and the top of the toes, but in some cases, they can occur in between the toes as well. At times, corns can even become inflamed, which makes them even more painful. Usually, corns develop as a result of shoes that are too tight or too loose or high heeled.
The third reason is either heredity, as diabetes related foot problems such as burning feet, poor circulation which leads to swelling and dryness of the foot and with the result of it healing process impairs and therefore can lead to charcot foot, ulcers, infections and other serious conditions. Problems related to hormonal imbalances like excess sweating, and burning of feet may provide favourable atmosphere for fungal and other skin infections and foul smelly also.
Fungal and bacterial conditions, including athlete'sfoot, occur because our feet spend a lot of time in shoes?a warm, dark, humid place that is perfect for fungus to grow. Fungal and bacterial conditions can cause dry skin, redness, blisters, itching, and peeling. If not treated right away, the infection may be hard to cure. If not treated properly, the infection may reoccur.
Burning feet is a common complaint among people, most commonly in the older group i.e., over 50 years of age. There are many different causes for burning feet. It is most prevalent in diabetic patients who often experience a mixture of burning feet and loss of sensation on the bottom of the foot.
Charcot foot is a progressive degenerative condition that affects the joints in the feet. It is associated with nerve damage that decreases the ability to sense stimuli, including pain, and decreases muscular reflexes that control movement. As a result, the joints in the feet are subjected to repeated trauma and injury, causing progressive damage to the ligaments, cartilage, and bones. Symptoms include insensitivity of foot, instability of joints, redness, strong pulse and swelling of the foot and ankle.
Poor circulation of blood flow that may be due to diabetes can make your foot less able to fight infection and to heal some sores like problem. Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden. Smoking aggravates such condition and makes arteries harden faster. It is very amazing to know that cardiovascular diseases cause half the deaths in the United States each year. The single greatest killer of Americans today is hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis. When this occurs, there is a lack of blood-flow to a given area of the body, particularly the feet, since they are farthest from the heart.
Some other infections like: Ingrown toenails occur when a piece of the nail breaks the skin?which can happen if you don'tcut your nails properly.
Spurs are calcium growths that develop on bones of our feet. They are caused by muscle strain in the feet. Standing for long periods of time, wearing wrong size shoes, or being overweight can make spurs worse.
Ankle sprain: A twisted ankle, ankle sprain, inversion sprain or an ankle that rolls over are all terms for injuries to the human ankle. It occurs following a sudden sideways or twisting movement of the foot. It can occur during intense athletic activity, such as running and jumping, walking on an uneven surface, which causes an awkward step. More serious ankle sprains are usually characterised by difficulty in walking after the injury and require medical treatment.
Sweaty feet (hyperhydrosis) and smelly feet (bromohydrosis) are two very common, annoying conditions of the feet.
Warts (Verruca Plantaris) are caused by a virus and are contagious.
They may grow singularly or in groups. They are painful and appear particularly on the bottom of the feet.
Some preventive and useful tips in foot care
* Wash your feet everyday thoroughly with water and soap and in between toes. Dry them well.
* Trim your nails preferably after washing your feet.
* Must wear footwear. Always wear shoes or slippers that fit well.
* Wear cotton or wool socks/ stockings depending upon season.
* To prevent fungal and bacterial infections, keep your feet?especially the area between your toes?clean and dry. Change your shoes and socks or stockings often to help keep your feet dry. Try dusting your feet daily with foot powder. If your foot condition does not get better within two weeks, talk to your doctor.
* Ask your doctor to check the sense of feeling and pulses in your feet at least once a year if you are a diabetic.
* Keep your blood sugar under control.
* Do not smoke, as it decreases the blood flow to your legs and feet and worsen your problem.
* Do not cut corns or calluses with a razor blade or use over-the-counter medicines to dissolve corns or calluses.
* Do not use chemical such as alcohol or betadine on your feet unnecessarily.
And finally do make exercise a habit as it is good for poor circulation of blood. The best exercise for your feet is walking. It stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet. Walk in sturdy, good-fitting, comfortable shoes. Brisk walking is also beneficial for your heart and to maintain overall good health and physique. But don'twalk when you have open sores.
Seek medical service
The doctor will do a complete assessment and will advise you on:
* Treatment for corns, calluses, warts, etc
* Dry, cracked and painful heels
* Fungal infection of foot, ingrown toenail
* Diabetic and non-diabetic ulcers
* Athletes foot
* Foot wears
Taking good care of your foot health has many benefits including increasing your comfort, limiting the possibility of additional medical problems, reducing your chance of hospitalisation due to infection, and keeping you active and mobile on your feet throughout your life. So never take chance for this very important par of your body.WHO recommends deworming tablets for all children in India yearly as people walk bare foot and ?open latrines? is way of our life style.
Foot care is essential part of health care, let us become conscious about it.
(Dr Sharda Jain is secretary general, Delhi Gynaecological Society and can be contacted at [email protected])