Now let’s talk about those feet! Like hands, men don’t tend to spend all that much time thinking about foot care. If you are an athlete, then of course you pay attention to your feet in terms of the muscles, any tightness (use that tennis ball to stretch that out!), and properly fitting shoes (or I hope you are paying attention to these), but what about actually caring for your feet themselves? Again, many women like to indulge in the occasional pedicure to get their feet in good shape for their summer sandals, but what should a guy who doesn’t want to go to the salon do to care for his feet? Basically what you are already doing, but below are a few common foot issues that men have and what you can do for them.
Calluses are hardened, thickened layers of skin that form on the skin that come into contact with significant pressure & friction. The body forms them to protect the skin. We can all get them from doing a variety of activities, from playing the guitar to cross-country skiing. For the most part, they are not really an issue, being more of an aesthetic concern than anything. Calluses do protect the skin from those heavy weight bars or those hard guitar strings, so you may want to leave them be unless they are causing you discomfort, pain or inflamed. If you want to get rid of your calluses, then there are a few things you can try.
- At your local drugstore or Target, you can find strips or pads that you can apply over the callus. These keep medication on the callus to help soften it.
- Use a pumice stone on wet feet to gently scrub away the tough skin. For best results, either let your feet soak first or do this towards the end of (or after) your shower or bath
- Keep the skin moisturized, especially with a cream
- Identify the source of the callus and adjust. By this I mean, maybe you need new shoes or socks so that your feet are properly cushioned & supported so that calluses do not form (for example). Seeing a podiatrist for an orthotic to relieve the pressure is another option.
If you have diabetes, please discuss your concerns about calluses with your physician before trying to get rid of them. Certain methods, such as pumicing, increase your risk of infection.
Athlete’s Foot is not just for athletes! People can get athlete’s foot from public pools or hotels as well. Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection that occurs on the soles of the feet and between the toes. It looks like flaky, cracking skin that typically itches. To treat it, use an anti-fungal cream that you can pick up over the counter at any drugstore. If you have been using the cream and it is not going away, see your dermatologist to make sure that it is athlete’s foot, and not something else. How can you avoid getting it in the first place?
- Wear shower shoes/flip flops when you are at the pool, gym, locker room, public shower, or hotel room. Yes- wear the shoes INTO the public shower (not just to & from the shower).
- Keep your feet dry, even if you’re not in public areas, because the athlete’s foot fungus loves warm, moist areas. For shoes, sandals can help keep your feet from getting sweaty & wet. If you are wearing closed sneakers, clogs, or other more enclosed shoes, change your socks if they get sweaty and be aware that shoes made of synthetic materials (plastic, rubber, etc) are more likely to cause sweating
- Wash your feet every day & dry them thoroughly
- Wear socks that wick moisture away from your skin and/or dry quickly
- Alternate your shoes daily if you can. This will make sure that each pair dries our completely.
- Don’t share towels, linens or shoes with anyone who has athlete’s foot
Keep toe nails trimmed. This helps reduce hang nails & ingrown toe nails, but is also important if you are a runner or athlete because toe nails that are too long can interfere with the fit of your shoes –comfort, calluses, etc. Proper toe nail care can also help prevent toe nail fungus, which turns them yellow & crusty. If you have toe nail fungus, there are some OTC products available, but they are mostly ineffective. An antifungal pill is generally required to clear up the fungus. As with athlete’s foot, toe nail fungus can be prevented by keeping your feet dry & wearing shoes or sandals in public places.
Thank you for joining us on our Men's Health - Skin Care series this month! I hope that you will join us for our July blog series on Summer Skin Care Topics!