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With sandal season just around the corner, it’s time to get those feet in tip top shape. If for you, summer is synonymous with pedicures, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind before your next trip to the nail salon.
Whirlpool foot baths can harbor an assortment of dangerous fungus and bacteria. Finding a salon that uses individual, disposable bath liners ensures you are safe from cross-contamination with previous clients. If you do end up at a salon with whirlpool foot baths, staff should be thoroughly disinfecting them between each customer – instructions usually require a minimum 10 minutes of disinfecting.
Before you get in the chair, check to see that staff are soaking tools in a blue liquid disinfectant and ask what type of sterilization process they use. Disinfectant alone is not enough to kill all bacteria. At Simcoe Foot Clinic, we use Autoclaves which act similar to a pressure cooker and kill 100 percent of infective organisms using high pressure and steam.
Any non-metal tools like buffers or emery boards cannot be completely sterilized and should be thrown out after each client.
If you’re unsure about any part of the sterilization process – ask questions. Staff should be open and knowledgeable about their disinfection and sterilization procedures.
If you want to be on the safe side, bring your own tools (available from most beauty supply stores) and disinfect them at home, using a disinfectant solution or rubbing alcohol, to avoid cross contamination.
When trimming your nails, ask the technician to cut straight across with the contour of the nail. Cutting into the corners will encourage the nail to grow into the skin causing ingrown nails. If you already have an ingrown nail or are predisposed to getting them, avoid pedicures all together and see a chiropodist.
If you have any cuts or open sores on your feet/legs where microorganisms can enter the skin, you should steer clear of pedicures until they’re healed. Also avoid shaving at least two days prior to a pedicure as it leaves your skin susceptible to infection.
For diabetics, the feet are particularly vulnerable. A small cut can lead to a very serious infection. If you do decide to get a pedicure, never allow the technician to use any sharp instruments and skip any services that can injure the skin. Better yet, skip the salon and have a Chiropodist (foot specialist) – do a medical pedicure. If you want to add a splash of colour, you can apply polish yourself at home or have the salon do just that.
Keep in mind that nail polish doesn’t allow the nail to breath so make sure to take it off every few weeks and leave nails clear of any polish for at least a week before reapplying.
Not all salons are unsafe. There are many that follow clean and safe practices. It is important to note however, that Chiropodists and Podiatrists are the only regulated foot specialists in Ontario. Because they provide medical treatments, they are covered under most benefit plans and are tax deductible. Chiropodists are highly trained and can detect early warning signs for a range of diseases like diabetes or melanoma. They also have strict infection control standards so you can rest assured that your feet are in good hands.
An open or inflamed skin wound that won't heal can also be a sign of skin cancer and should be assessed by your doctor.
Keeping your feet in good condition with proper, professional foot care and addressing minor issues as they arise prevents more costly and complicated foot problems from developing down the road.
What role does diet play when it comes to the health of your feet?
March is National Nutrition Month and with half of Canadians (52%) over the age of 20 living with a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to reducing those numbers.
The food you eat not only affects your waistline, but your diet also has a direct link to your foot health.
Extra weight means extra pressure on the joints and bones of your feet. Several foot conditions, such as flat feet, hammertoes and bunions can be made significantly worse by carrying excess weight.
A stress fracture in the foot is often the first sign of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by the loss of bone tissue. It can develop unnoticed over many years without any signs or symptoms. For that reason, calcium is essential during growth years to build up reserves and later in life to maintain bone quality. Calcium rich foods include dairy products, sardines or salmon with bones and green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Vitamin D is also vital to improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium or vitamin d from your diet or lifestyle, talk to your doctor about taking supplements.
Inflammation is a factor of several foot conditions including plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and gout. There are many common foods known to encourage inflammation such as the refined grains, sugar, and trans fats in many baked goods and junk foods; the saturated fat in red meat; and the omega-6 fats found in many commonly used vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, and sunflower oils.
Eating more green vegetables, plant based foods and omega-3 fats found in fatty fish such as salmon, can provide anti-inflammatory benefits to your feet and overall health.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease occurs when plaque made up of fat and cholesterol builds up in the arteries restricting blood flow to the arteries of the legs and feet. Because the legs and feet of someone with P.A.D. do not have normal blood flow—and because blood is necessary for healing—seemingly small problems such as cuts, blisters, or sores can result in serious complications.
A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium and rich in omega-3, fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of peripheral artery disease.
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet but a healthy diet can help to prevent future complications.It is important to avoid sugars and starch while maintaining a diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables and lean meats to help keep blood sugar levels under control.
Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements or making any major dietary changes.
Give your feet a little extra love this Valentine's Day!
Your feet may be at the other end of your body, but they can also offer some insight into the state of your heart.
Swelling in your feet, legs and ankles can be a sign that your heart isn't pumping blood as effectively as it should. When the heart can't pump fast enough, blood backs up in the veins and causes swelling.
While swelling alone does not signal heart disease, your chiropodist can check for other signs that something might be amiss. Decreased hair growth on the feet and ankles, purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin can all indicate a problem.
Effective treatment is more likely with an early diagnosis. A simple test that compares blood pressure in the ankles to blood pressure in the arms can confirm any concerns and get patients on track for treatment