You brute! Yesterday you bit a living thing with at least 63 tons of pressure – it’s a wonder it didn’t end up in the hospital. What’s more, you weren’t even aware that you were doing it.

The objects of your punishment were your own two feet. Most of the time your feet take this beating in stride. However, every once in a while they object. When they do, be sure to pay attention.

Your Foot Structure

The foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. In fact, your feet contain a quarter of the bones in your body. An average day of walking puts a force of several hundred tons on the feet. It’s no wonder that one out of six Americans–43.1 million—complain about foot problems. To prevent foot problems, wear shoes that really fit, pay attention to your feet, and take care of common problems before they get out of control.

Your-fantastic-feet-how-to-keep-them-happy

Beware of Blisters

Blisters are caused by friction, when some part of your foot constantly rubs against your shoe. If you get a blister, don’t pop it. Instead, keep a bandage on it until it heals. To prevent blisters in the future, wear socks to cushion your feet from your shoes.

Athlete’s Foot

You don’t have to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot. But you’re more prone to getting this infection if you hang around where athletes are pools, locker-room showers, and changing rooms. Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus, and fungi like to grow in warm, dark, and humid places. The inside of a shoe, especially if your foot is wet from sweat, is heaven for fungi.

The first sign of athlete’s foot will probably be painful cracks between your toes. Over-the-counter foot sprays or powders may work, but if the problem persists, see a doctor who can prescribe anti-fungal drugs. To prevent the spread of the infection, dry your feet with a separate towel. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can persist for a long time. The best ways to prevent it are to keep your feet clean and dry, change your shoes and socks often, and use some sort of footwear in pools, locker-room showers, and changing rooms.

Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is just what it says: a toenail that has dug into the flesh of the toe, most commonly the big roe. It hurts. You can relieve the pain by soaking the affected foot in warm water with Epsom salts added. Don’t try to remove the infected toenail, and be wary of products that claim to solve the problem. Serious infections should be seen by a doctor, who can cut our the ingrown portion.

You can avoid ingrown toenails by cutting your toenails correctly straight across and leaving them slightly longer than the toes.

Plantar Warts

Go ahead, pick up that toad. Toads don’t cause warts viruses do. Plantar warts (warts on the bottom of the foot) are hard and flat with pinpoints of black, which are the ends of blood vessels. Warts are kind of strange in that they resist treatment, but they may also go away on their own. If medication doesn’t work, a doctor can remove them, often by freezing them with liquid nitrogen of by using laser cautery.

To prevent warts, change your shoes and socks daily, and don’t go barefoot in locker-room showers. (Sound familiar?)

Foot Odor

Foot odor may not be a medical emergency, but it can be a real social problem. Your foot has 250,000 sweat glands (did someone actually count them?). That’s more sweat glands per inch of skin than anywhere else on your body. Sweat glands on the foot are constantly secreting to keep the skin moist and flexible so your foot can move easily.

Keep foot odor under control by changing your shoes every day, which allows the shoes to dry out completely and gets rid of odor-causing bacteria. Wear cotton or wool socks that absorb moisture, and wash your socks after every wearing. Other measures are to put medicated insoles in your shoes and to use foot powders and antiperspirants on your feet.

To recap, wash your feet regularly, dry them thoroughly, and change your shoes and socks often. Above all, don’t ignore foot pain. Your feet may take a beating, but they were never meant to hurt.

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