General or routine foot care is vital in order to assess and manage the foot health of patients, particularly those with acute or chronic diseases that affect the feet, or those who are unable to care for their feet themselves.
There are a number of health conditions that can have a significant impact on foot health including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, vascular insufficiencies and reduced sensation. Foot health can often also provide an insight into a patient’s current health status and point to more serious conditions that need to be assessed.
General foot care typically involves nail and skincare including nail cutting, management of ingrown toenails and nail infections, debridement of callus and corns, management of dry skin and footwear assessments. Depending on the nature of your foot health, this is usually performed every 6-10 weeks. Often, people find it difficult to manage their foot health on their own due to poor mobility or eyesight, which can result in improper skin and nail care or injury.
There are a number of additional treatment options that we can use to assist with general foot care including:
- The use of silicone devices or toe props to assist with corns and callus.
- Orthotic or footwear modifications to help redistribute pressure away from problem areas including padding.
- Placing foam underneath the nail to prevent recurring ingrown toenails.
Here are some common questions that we are asked at the clinic in regards to general foot care.
What Is The Proper Way To Cut My Nails?
As a general rule, it is best to ensure that you cut your nails straight across and avoid cutting too deep down the side of the nail. This will prevent issues such as ingrown toenails. Avoid cutting the nails too short as this may cause pain.
For more information on the correct technique to cut your nails, check out our blog post “Cutting Toenails – pretty straightforward right?”.
How Can Seeing A Podiatrist Regularly Help With My Nail Condition?
There are a number of conditions that occur in nails including fungal or thick nails. At the clinic, we are able to properly cut and file the nails and advise on different treatment options, from natural solutions to medical treatments.
What Is Callus And How Can I Manage It?
Callus presents as a yellowish growth of skin on areas of the foot where there is increased pressure and loading on the one spot. It is the body’s protective response to pressure, however, it can become problematic if not treated properly. Common places for callus to form include the heels, the big toes and along the ball of the foot. Callus on the heels can lead to cracking of the skin and bleeding, which can be very painful. In the clinic, we use a scalpel to carefully debride the callus. We then use a sanding disc to smoothen the skin and apply moisturiser. Simple things that you can do at home to help with callus include the use of a pumice stone and applying a urea-based moisturiser to help soften the skin.
I Have A Corn, Should I Try Using A Corn Pad?
Corns can sometimes be tricky to treat due to their locations. Corn pads are available at chemists, however, should be used with caution. They contain salicylic acid which is used to help break down the skin. However, if the corn pad is used incorrectly, it can affect the surrounding healthy skin and cause further problems and pain. It is important that if you are suffering from a corn, that you seek medical advice before proceeding with using a corn pad, particularly if you have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes.
Why Can’t I Just Have A Pedicure Instead Of Seeing A Podiatrist?
Seeing a podiatrist for your foot health is very different to visiting a salon for a pedicure. Unfortunately, some of our work as podiatrists can be fixing the mistakes made at salons including ingrown toenails, warts, fungal nails, tinea and wounds. Below outlines the significant differences between the 2 options.
|Pedicure at a salon||Podiatry consultation|
|Those working in salons are not medically trained.||Podiatrists are medically trained and obtain a university degree in health science and podiatric practice. We have an abundance of knowledge in foot health and how to appropriately manage all foot and ankle conditions.|
|Feet are washed in a basin – whilst this softens the skin, there are concerns about hygiene and sanitation procedures as they are rarely cleaned properly between each customer.||Your feet are not washed as this can lead to hygiene issues. Instead, we use hospital-grade disinfectant wipes which are safe for your skin.|
|Using a ‘grater’ like tool to treat callus and rough skin can sometimes be effective, however, can also be uncomfortable and produce a burning sensation.||Podiatrists are trained to appropriately use a scalpel and sanding disc to safely manage callus smooth out rough skin.|
|Incorrect nail and skin management can lead to further complications.||Podiatrists are trained on how to correctly manage nail and skin conditions to avoid painful conditions such as ingrown toenails.|
|Cuticles are pushed back to improve the appearance of the nail. The cuticle is there to help keep your nail/skin junction watertight – a bit like silicon in the shower.||Podiatrists do not push the cuticles back as this can lead to infection of the nail and cuticle. Instead, we manage them more conservatively using other instruments.|
|Nails are painted and a massage is provided.||Podiatrists do not paint toenails as long term nail polish use can damage the nail. Instead, we educate on healthy ways to manage your nails so that you can wear nail polish occasionally in summer and to events. We will often massage your feet at the end of the consultation using moisturiser. We can also provide massage for sports injuries.|
|Gloves are often not worn by those working in salons.||Podiatry clinics take infection control extremely seriously. Podiatrists will always wear disposable gloves when providing general foot care.|
|Tools are not sterilised to a medial standard, if at all. Patients often comment on the same tools being used on every customer.||All of our instruments are sterilised after every patient in an autoclave to a medical standard. We are audited for this process and must have thorough and accurate record-keeping to ensure we maintain an exceptionally high level of sterilisation.|
|Contact surfaces such as basins and chairs are not sanitised between customers.||Podiatrists will wipe down the treatment chair, their chair and their trolley between patients in accordance with infection control protocols.|
Check out our blog post – “Pedicure vs. Podiatrist” for more information.