Sunday, 8 August 2010

How healthy are YOUR feet?

Hands up if you think foot care starts and ends with pedicures at your local beauty salon?

Well, you’re both right and wrong. Right because a beauty therapist will help keep your nails in check, file them down, give you a relaxing and revitalising foot massage and paint them a nice colour that will lift your spirits. But you are also wrong because a beauty therapist is not medically trained and as much as they can recommend a pretty colour for your toenails, by law they cannot diagnose any foot problems.

I have often been heard telling clients, ‘you may want to see a podiatrist to address that toenail problem or to tackle that hard skin’. It’s very important that you know the limitations of a beauty therapist and always walk in the opposite direction if you see a scalpel in their hand, unless they have an accompanying certificate of use, of course.

This is why regular checkups with your podiatrist are essential for the health of your feet. Regular means every three months, unless your feet are in such perfect condition and can get away with a bi-annual visit. . Our feet do so much for us and we sometimes take them for granted, until you have a problem.

I went along to my local podiatrist recently for a check up and a question/answer session.

So what did I learn? Here goes:

What is the difference between a podiatrist and chiropodist?

In today’s terms they are both the same people. A chiropodist has a diploma in foot care, whereas a podiatrist has a degree in foot care. However, as the profession becomes more sophisticated they are merging into one.

What does a podiatrist do?

They treat a variety of foot problems, including disorders of the skin, nails and delicate small joints of the lower leg and foot.

A lot of foot illnesses go unchecked without regular visits to the podiatrist and because some of them just look like cosmetic issues, people can be unaware that they are carrying a potentially serious issue. For example fungus of the nail can present itself in so many different forms from yellowing or whitening of the nail to thickening or thinning of the nail. With all these possibilities see why a visit to the podiatrist is important?

Further tidbits:

• Keep toenails short. To just above the where your skin underneath and the nail form a seal. This is important to stop debris building up underneath the free edge, which can lead to infection and also to stop cracks and breakages of the nail itself. The big toe especially, takes the brunt of many knocks and a long nail increases the chance of painful breakages. Trust me I know, that’s why I’m sat in the podiatrists chair!

Quick Tip: after filing, remove nail dust and debris by using a medium strength toothbrush to clean around the sides and underneath the nail free edge.

• Use a foot file once a day. The feet must be dry before you file as its most effective then. So file before a shower or bath.

• Sandals and flip flops are great for summer, but they put a lot of pressure on the feet and encourage the development of hard skin and calluses. Therefore don’t spend all day in them. If you do, remember to coat the soles of your feet in thin layer of Vaseline. This will help prevent the build up of hard skin.

• Cosmetic foot creams are great for smell, but it’s important to use one that contains Urea. Urea is the body’s natural moisturiser and it helps break down hard skin, repair and relieve hard skin and its associated problems.. Results can be seen in as little as seven days. CCS Heel Balm was recommended as the best.

• It’s important to get hard and dry skin medically removed with scalpel. Do not do it yourself or let a beauty therapist do it. Practically you cannot see underneath your feet without great difficulty and a podiatrist will be able to do a much better job as they know exactly what they are looking for.

• Avoid getting toe nail extensions like acrylic or gel overlays. It may look great, but viral and fungal infections can grow underneath the overlay and infect the toenail. Although, the podiatrist can treat the infection, it takes a good few months, up to twelve, depending on the location of the infection, for the infected nail to grow out. During this time, you cannot have any public pedicures as infections; especially fungal and viral are highly contagious.

So there you have it, foot care is extremely important, especially if you have underlying health problems like diabetes or are receiving chemotherapy. I must say that my visit to the podiatrist was both interesting and an eye opener and I hope more people take the time out to make visiting the podiatrist as often as visiting the dentist. A check up is all it takes to keep you walking on the right path (pun intended!)

To make your visit to the podiatrist more relaxing, book in for a spot of reflexology as well. Many podiatrists offer this service and it’s a relaxing way to combat stress and tension.


  1. Thankyou for posting this, it is important to realise the limitations of the beauty therapist and when a podiatrist is required. I belong to the school of thought that says you need to spend money on your feet and your bed, because if you are no on one, you are in the other!

  2. You're very welcome, I'm glad you appreciate it and you look after your feet. Every day, I preach the importance of loving our feet as without them but most people are funny about feet and sometimes don't take notice, until there is a problem.


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