Foot health and hygiene is an important part of overall wellness, but few of us give our feet as much care and attention as they deserve. Not only is this unfair (our feet carry us around all day!), but it can also raise the risk of health problems. After all, feet are usually exposed to outside threats such as dirt, germs and injury far more than any other part of the body.
Toenail fungus and skin infections such as Athlete’s Foot can cause a lot of discomfort, so it’s essential to protect your feet against them. A few small changes such as choosing Copper compression socks over the regular ones and maintaining a good foot care routine can make a huge difference!
Foot Problems: Who’s At Risk?
Certain groups of people are at a higher risk of fungal and bacterial infections, e.g. people with active lifestyles such as athletes, runners, hikers, adventure travellers and sportspersons, as well as people with reduced immunity or medical conditions such as diabetes.
Active people tend to focus on health and fitness, but they’re more likely to suffer injuries, or pick up germs from contaminated surfaces. Diabetics, on the other hand, are prone to foot ulcers and slow-healing wounds that can easily get infected. Diabetes also causes neuropathy or loss of sensation in lower limbs, making it hard to detect foot problems.
Certain lifestyle conditions can also raise the risk of toenail and foot infections, such as wearing ill-fitting or completely closed footwear that doesn’t let your feet breathe. Tight or uncomfortable shoes can chafe against skin or weaken your toe nails, allowing greater access to infection-causing bacteria and fungi.
6 Health and Hygiene Habits that Help You Fight Foot and Toe Fungus
Here are 6 simple ways to keep toenail and foot fungus at bay:
- Regular Foot Care – Follow a proper routine to keep your feet clean and dry. Use a pumice stone or foot scrub to remove dead skin and calluses, and dry your feet with a clean towel after washing. Clip toenails straight across, using properly sanitized nail clippers or scissors, and gently file down rough edges with an emery board or nail file.
- Wear Comfy Shoes – When you buy footwear, make sure it isn’t too small or too large for your feet. Tight shoes rub against your skin, but very loose shoes can cause your toes to slide around. Choose materials such as canvas or leather, which allow air to circulate around your feet, and air out your footwear when it’s not in use.
- Upgrade Your Socks – Regular socks protect against dirt and compression socks boost circulation, but neither is designed to fight germs. Instead, try compression socks infused with antimicrobial copper. Copper compression socks fight bacteria and fungi, eliminate odours, enhance skin health, and reduce problems caused by poor circulation by improving blood flow in your legs and feet.
- Change Footwear Daily – Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes or socks every day, since they collect sweat, dirt and dead skin from feet. Combined with body heat, this creates the ideal conditions for bacterial and fungal growth. Rotate your shoes and change your socks at least once a day, or more often if they feel damp and/or smell unpleasant.
- Moisturize Feet Regularly – Dry skin is more vulnerable to hardening, cracks, rashes and inflammation, so make sure you’re keeping your feet moisturized properly. This is especially crucial during the summer months when warm and dry weather saps moisture from your skin. Also rehydrate your feet with a good foot cream after a bath or shower.
- Don’t Go Barefoot – Public locker rooms, toilets, poolside areas, showers and hospital or clinic floors are usually teeming with bacteria and fungi. Wear sandals, flip-flops or shoes when you’re outdoors, and regularly disinfect floors and contact surfaces in your home. It’s best to avoid going barefoot anywhere at all, except when you’re sliding into bed!
If you notice changes in your toenails, e.g. thickening, crumbling or flaking, lifting off the nail bed or turning yellow, white or brown, you may have toenail fungus. Excessive itchiness, red spots or pain in your feet could also signal a skin infection, so visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment at the earliest!