Many people neglect to look after their feet. However, feet need the same care as your hands and face. Life isn’t always easy for your feet. Each day they take you where you are going and support your entire body weight. Keep them healthy by introducing simple and effective habits into your daily routine. A well-pedicured, callus-free, smooth looking and well moisturized foot with clipped toenails is important for both males and females. Every day, take a few minutes to care for your feet by following these simple guidelines: Wash your feet well. Use a mild soap and scrub well between and under your toes. Completely dry your feet, especially between your toes. After every bath or shower, while enjoying your favourite movie or television show, apply a moisturizing cream all over your feet, except between your toes – this area should stay dry at all times. Let the cream penetrate your feet before putting on socks or shoes. Once a week, consider pampering your feet. Prepare for treatment by soaking them in warm water for 5 - 10 minutes to soften rough areas. Eliminate calluses and dead skin using a smooth pumice stone. Slide the stone in the same direction in one continuous stroke. Do not rub back and forth. Avoid pumice stones that are made of metal or overly rough. Massage your feet to improve circulation and moisturize them with a cream designed for feet – there are a variety of choices available. Ask your pharmacist for a recommendation.

Look after your toenails regularly. To keep the corners from piercing your skin and causing pain or developing an in-grown toenail, clip them straight across and never shorter than the ends of your toes. Corners can be slightly rounded using a nail file. Even with regular foot care, your feet can become tired and overworked after a long walk, prolonged standing or a sport/exercise activity. To lessen friction and a painful burning sensation, insoles (such as transparent gel) can reduce pressure and absorb the impact to the soles of your feet. However, make sure that the insole does not make your shoes too tight and create extra pressure. Always have new shoes fitted properly for length and width. It is suggested to purchase new shoes later in the day to ensure proper fit and comfort.

The following is a short list of common foot problems. Always consult a health care professional if there is any sign of infection, injury or unusual appearance.


Foot blisters are small round or oval bubbles filled with clear liquid. They are caused when skin repeatedly rubs against a shoe. To avoid blisters, break in new shoes at home and wear them gradually (no more than 2 hours) over several days. Wear socks that keep your feet dry and react quickly when you feel a burning sensation. Application of a cushioned or gel protection pad can be helpful. Do not puncture blisters because broken blisters can become infected. In case of an infection, contact a health care professional.


A bunion is an inward deviation of the big toe creating a lump on the side of the foot. Bunions tend to be hereditary and primarily affect women over 50. Excess weight and wearing narrow-toed high heel shoes can cause or aggravate this problem. Ease pain by soaking your feet for 10 minutes in warm water and Epsom salt or by applying ice to the affected area. Prevent corns from forming on the lump because they can increase pain. Orthotics (specially designed insoles) can help make your feet more comfortable and slow the deformation of the foot. Protective cushions and toe separators are available to assist in pain relief. If none of these measures relieves pain or if it is difficult to wear shoes, consult an orthopedic specialist.

Calluses and Corns

The buildup of hardened skin caused by pressure and friction can cause callosity. Calluses are tough, thick skin on the heel or big toes. Severe dryness can cause skin to crack along the heel and form crevasses. Corns are small, sometimes thick lumps of hardened skin on the tip or joint of a toe or in between toes. They can be painful. Calluses look like corns, but tend to form on joints on the soles of your feet.

To prevent these conditions, daily foot care combined with the use of a ureabased moisturizing cream is effective. Use protective cushions to lessen friction and pain. Corn remover cushions and liquid preparations can dissolve corns. Before applying one of these cushions, healthy skin surrounding the corn must be protected from irritation and inflammation using a product such as clear nail polish. Consult a health care professional before using these products. If you are diabetic, do not try to remove corns yourself using sharp instruments or products containing salicylic acid. Consult a foot care specialist!

Excessive Sweating

This can cause softening, whitening and peeling of the skin especially between the toes. A resulting growth of fungus and bacteria can also cause strong odour. Let your feet and shoes breathe as soon as possible at the end of the day. Remove insoles from your shoes to let them dry or wash them regularly. Avoid wearing nylons, socks or stockings. Opt instead for lycra, spandex, polyester or polypropylene – which draw away sweat. Use antiperspirant products rather than scented deodorizers. Aluminium chloride helps lessen sweating and eliminate odors, rather than masking them. Anti-odor insoles and drying powders can also be effective. Consult a health care professional if you do not see any improvement.


Foot problems for people with diabetes can be dangerous over time. Diabetes can cause nerve damage in feet, resulting in a diminished ability to feel pain, heat and cold. Small cuts or lesions can then go unnoticed and become aggravated when left untreated. Diabetes can also reduce blood circulation in your legs and slow healing and scarring. All people with diabetes should heed the following advice:

  • Check your feet daily for cuts, redness and swelling. Check between your toes and under toenails. Use of a small mirror is helpful to identify any unusual injury or discolouration.
  • Clip your toenails regularly with rounded scissors. If you have problems with vision or dexterity, see your foot care specialist.
  • Wear comfortable, properly fitted shoes to avoid blisters, corns and bunions.
  • Choose socks without stitches to reduce friction on your feet.
  • Before slipping on your shoes, check the inside for any objects or folds that could cause injury.
  • Avoid walking barefoot to minimize friction and injury.

This has been a brief overview of common foot problems. Always contact a health care professional if in doubt for any foot related problem. Our feet are often taken for granted – until there is an injury or problem. Let’s be pro-active by following basic daily routines to maintain healthy feet. Whenever you have any questions regarding self-treatment or prescription medication, please do not hesitate to ask your Smith Drugs and Apothecary pharmacist!

Norm Corriveau, B.Sc.Phm

References: Health Begins with the Feet, Pharmascience , 2012
Foot-sure, The importance of a simple check, Pharmacy-Business, March 2013
Foot Care, Canadian Diabetes Association
The Diabetic Foot, Assessment for Professionals, April 2013