Between pounding the pavement in dress shoes or tennis shoes and the unpleasant side effects of flip-flops and gym showers, men’s feet can suffer a lot of damage. Plus, a busy lifestyle can lead to neglecting basic grooming necessities like clipping toenails and keeping calluses at bay. Of course, even the toughest pair of soles deserve a break now and then, especially if you’re looking for a healthy way to relax. Fortunately, men have plenty of low-maintenance options to care for their feet, whether it’s using a soothing lotion or getting a full-blown pedicure. Take some time out of your demanding schedule to give your feet the attention they deserve--and enjoy a host of benefits, from preventing uncomfortable foot conditions to releasing stress and improving skin.
Foot care can be one of the most relaxing and beneficial parts of a weekly routine. With the right techniques and products, you can maintain strong, healthy feet and prevent common ailments before they occur. With just a little time and effort, your feet will stay healthy and happy from the conference room to the basketball court and back home.
Give your feet a break
General foot care can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, from buying a basic lotion to making an appointment at a spa for a professional pedicure treatment. Whichever path you choose, there are some basic principles to follow when it comes to foot care. Use these tips to keep your feet from becoming worse for wear.
- Cut your nails the right way. Since toenails are bigger and thicker than fingernails, you’ll need something a bit more heavy-duty to cut them. Pick up a pair of sturdy nail clippers specifically designed for toes, like Elite Nail Tools Toe Nail Clipper, and cut your toenails in a straight line to avoid hangnails and ingrown nails, both of which can lead to fungal infections. Ingrown toenails are caused not only by improper grooming but also poorly-fitting shoes, so make sure you’re wearing the right shoe size and consult your doctor if ingrown toenails continue to plague you.If an ingrown toenail is severe or persistent, your doctor may suggest surgically removing part of the nail to prevent recurrence and infection.
- Use lotion regularly. The hours we spend on our feet take a toll. You can unwind and relax at the end of the day by rubbing a rich lotion into your hard-working heels, which has the dual effect of helping to keep your skin supple and soft. Try the Ole Henriksen Body Comfort Lotion, a soothing blend of peppermint, lavender and seaweed extract. Massage the lotion onto feet before going to bed so the hydrating formula can work its magic overnight.
- Exfoliate dry skin. Exfoliation is the golden rule of skincare when it comes to maintaining smooth, youthful skin, and it applies to feet as well. For low-maintenance exfoliation, rub a pumice stone over your feet in the shower once or twice a week. If you want something a little more intensive, the Clarisonic Pedi-Boost Sonic Foot Renewing Peel Treatment offers a powerful blend of lactic and glycolic acid to remove layers of dead, dull skin and reveal the soft skin underneath.
Prevent common foot dilemmas
Feet are susceptible to odors, fungi and other dilemmas. Fortunately, most of these issues are easily avoidable. Use these tips to prevent foot conditions before they strike, and see a doctor if you have questions or need more intensive treatment.
- What is it? You don’t have to be marathon runner to get athlete’s foot. One of the most common foot ailments, athlete’s foot is a scaly, red inflammation that affects the soles of the feet and the area between the toes. It’s caused by a fungus that incubates in warm, moist areas, so people often pick it up by walking barefoot in places that harbor moisture, like public swimming pools and locker rooms.
- Prevention and treatment. The most important words to remember with athlete’s foot prevention are ventilation and protection. Do your best to keep feet dry, since the fungus thrives in wet and sweaty conditions. This means changing your socks frequently, letting your shoes air out in between visits to the gym and toweling in between your toes when you get out of the shower. When possible, wear sandals or flip-flops in hot weather. if you choose to shower at the gym or walk around a public pool, wear flip-flops; otherwise your feet will get a taste of everyone’s germs, potentially leading to more problems down the road. If you do pick up a fungal infection, invest in an antifungal powder such as Stiefel Zeasorb Super Absorbent Antifungal Treatment to help reduce sweat and irritation. If the infection recurs, see your doctor for prescription medication.
- What are they? Corns are thick spots of skin that form under great pressure and friction, similar to calluses on your hands, except smaller and with conical points. Corns typically form on the sides of the toes, where your skin rubs against your shoe.
- Prevention and treatment. You can sidestep corns by wearing properly-fitted shoes and correcting any irregularities in your gait. If you have trouble with friction, try placing foam pads in your shoes to help alleviate and redistribute the pressure. If you already have corns, soak your feet in warm, soapy water, then gently rub a pumice stone against the thickened areas of skin. Don’t try to cut the corn off at home, as this could lead to infection. If your corns are persistent, ask your doctor if he or she recommends surgery.
- Plantar fasciitis (jogger’s heel)
- What is it? Plantar fasciitis, or jogger’s heel, is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the bottom of the foot. This tissue, called the plantar fascia, connects the heel to the toe and helps maintain the arch on the top of the foot. When this tissue gets overworked, it becomes inflamed and can make walking and standing painful.
- Prevention and treatment. If you have high arches or flat feet, be sure to wear arch supports and properly fitting shoes with cushioned soles. You can alleviate the pain at home with a few stretching exercises and lifestyle changes. Try staying off your feet for a few days and putting ice on the affected area. Over the counter pain relievers can help as well.
- What is it? Fungal nail is essentially what it sounds like--a fungal infection of the toenails. Like athlete’s foot, the fungus inhabits moist areas, so men who sweat heavily and work out and shower at the gym are especially at risk. The infection makes nails brittle, discolored and sometimes odorous. Without the proper treatment, fungal nail can be painful and persistent.
- Prevention and treatment. Fungal nail is easy enough to avoid, especially if you already practice good foot hygiene. Keep your nails short, and dry your toes thoroughly when you get out of the shower. Pick up an antifungal powder and sprinkle it inside your shoes. If you do get a fungal nail, your doctor will probably prescribe medication or even laser treatment.
The modern man is on his feet all day, whether that involves going to meetings, running or swimming laps, working in the kitchen or taking a night out on the town. Even though our feet aren’t as noticeable as our hands or face, they still need a good deal of care, both for aesthetic and health reasons. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to maintain a healthy pair of feet that will carry you through an active lifestyle in the years to come. All you need are the right products and a simple daily routine to keep your toes, heels and soles as strong as the rest of you.
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