Foot notes

1 Jun 2006 by business traveller

It's usually easy to forget about feet, but there's just no getting away from them at the moment – from metatarsal injuries to David Beckham's fancy footwork – so it seems a good time to tackle (sorry) the wellbeing of your own. Most of us take an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to our feet and only bother with them when they hurt. Or smell. Or when we have to bare them in summer and realise they're so neglected they will give small children nightmares. Feet are in fact incredibly well engineered, acting both as shock absorbers and propulsion engines. In our lifetimes, they'll walk us the equivalent of four times around the planet. Surely they deserve a little care and attention?

Foot care basics

Feet should be washed daily to prevent odours, and if you have lots of hard, dry skin you'll need to exfoliate too. Do this on dry feet so that you remove more of the drier, harder skin. There are specific foot exfoliating products or you could try a foot file, which works a bit harder.

Moisturise your feet after bathing to keep them feeling comfortable. Some creams have deodorising benefits, while others contain ingredients to dissolve hard skin. If your feet are really dry, apply cream before going to bed and pop some socks on. Your feet will be noticeably smoother, come morning.

Clip your nails as short as they can go, and cut them straight across to minimise the risk of in-growing toenails. It's easier to cut little pieces at a time rather than one huge slice.

Foot help

Problem: foot odour

Our feet have 250,000 sweat glands and excrete up to half a pint of moisture a day. If the sweat collects and goes stale, it smells and can lead to infections. A really bad smell can be the result of a fungal infection which needs treatment, but generally foot odour can be prevented with good hygiene. You could also try using deodorising insoles in your shoes or foot-freshening sprays.

Problem: tired, swollen feet

Extended periods of immobility can lead to swollen feet. The best prevention is to keep moving throughout a flight: get up and walk around the cabin as much as possible.
If your feet and ankles are swollen, rest them on the wall in your bedroom as soon as you can, with your legs at a 45-degree angle, for at least 10 minutes. You could also try a hot and cold foot soak. Fill one bowl with comfortably warm water, the other with cold and alternate between them a couple of times, allowing your feet to soak in each for a few minutes.

Problem: itchiness between your toes

This could be Athlete's foot, a fungal infection that usually breeds in dark, moist areas, which makes your shoes a perfect home. It is often passed on at swimming pools and in changing rooms or by sharing towels and shoes. As well as itchiness, symptoms include redness, skin cracking and peeling. Treatment is with specialist creams such as Lamisil, which is available at pharmacies.

Problem: sweaty feet

As well as washing your feet morning and evening in warm, soapy water and drying them thoroughly, you could also try dabbing on some surgical spirit, then dusting your feet with talc.

Problem: need a foot specialist?

Podiatrists (they are referred to as chiropodists in the UK) deal with everything from corns to minor procedures that require a local anaesthetic. To find a qualified practitioner, go to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists website, feetforlife.org or call +44 (0)845 450 3720.

What to buy

1. The Sanctuary Spa Exfoliating Foot Wipes, £5
Brilliant for when you're on the go and need a quick freshen up.

2. Origins Reinventing the Heel, £16.50
Containing salicylic acid to remove rough patches, this is for really dry, cracked feet.

3. Scholl Dual Action Foot File, £4.69
Good for seriously hard skin. Use the coarser underside of the file first, then finish off with the finer side to buff.

4. Kiehl's All-Sport Foot Cream, £13.50
Designed for active people, this keeps skin supple and comfortable and also relieves minor skin irritations.

5. Scholl Odour Control Foot Spray, £3.65
Protects from odours and wetness, containing anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents.

6. Boots Gorgeous Feet Amazing Anti Rub, £3.99
Designed for women, but there's nothing girlie about this non-greasy stick that prevents blisters and chafing in new or tight shoes.

7. L'Occitane Shea Butter Mini Foot Cream, £6.75
A rich cream in a handy travel size that soothes and cools the feet.

8. Aveda Foot Relief, £15.50
Herbs, exfoliating fruit acids and plant extracts smooth, cool and moisturise the toughest of feet.

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