By Wilma Bedford
Taking care of your feet and shoes is low on your agenda if you only want to crash on your bed after a long day, but slackness in this regard is definitely going to catch up with you and cost you dearly ─ physically as well as socially.
Fashion whims will only cause problems in later years. Wrong shoes that pinch will cause calluses, which are not only ugly but can also hurt, while shoes that chafe cause blisters. Very high-heeled shoes that are too narrow over your toes cause ingrowing toenails, sore knees and ankles, as well as bunions and toes that fold over each other, which will cause surgical intervention later.
Athlete’s feet are infectious and can cause itchy or smarting toes. If you cannot avoid public ablution blocks such as at sports centres or camping sites, wear sandals when you use the showers or have to walk the same path as the other people barefoot. At home you must apply a stringent hygiene regime if one of the family members is infected. Avoid use of the same towels or bedsheets and disinfect the shower or bath after use.
Bromhidrosis, another name for stinking feet, is an embarrassment to the sufferer and those around him or her. It can happen to anybody. It must be the most common foot problem and can be contained through good personal hygiene, by using effective foot remedies and, in exceptional cases, such as excessive sweating, by means of surgical treatment.
Smelly feet are caused by the proliferation of bacteria in a warm, moist unventilated environment such as closed shoes. The increased sweating can also be caused by diabetes, hormone changes and high stress levels. Inadequate personal hygiene only aggravates the situation.
Wash your feet with soap every day and dry them well, especially between the toes; use a hair dryer if necessary. Wash your feet with an antibacterial soap or hand cleanser, groom your toenails and use a brush to remove skin on your feet that can breed bacteria. Rub or spray an antiperspirant on your feet and wear clean socks every day. Soak your feet in a solution of half a cup of salt and a quarter cup of Epsom salts on two litres of warm water.
Half a cup of Epsom salts mixed with half a cup of white vinegar and two cups of water with a few drops of essential oils in a spray bottle is a blissful relief for your feet after a hot day’s work. Keep it in a refrigerator and also spray the mixture in your shoes and let them dry overnight before putting them on again.
It is also essential to treat your shoes and sandals against malodorousness and bacteria, especially if your shoes or sandals are made of artificial leather ─ yes, sandals can also stink even if they are open. If possible, wash the shoes in a washing machine (bind them in a pillowcase) and let them dry in a well-ventilated place. Wipe the insides and inner soles of closed shoes with a sponge soaked in water with white vinegar, or sprinkle borax or bicarbonate of soda inside your shoes and leave overnight. Put a cotton ball dipped in essential oils in each shoe for a fresh smell.
Take care of your feet, you only have one pair!