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Tread softly

Put yourself on a firm footing when it comes to caring for your feet

07 MARCH 2011

Not only are calluses and patches of hard skin on the feet unsightly, they can also be incredibly painful. What makes this worse for sufferers is the tendency to think it's their own fault. In fact, there are people whose skin is genetically predisposed to 'keratinise', the technical term for this conversion of soft skin into the more solid forms of hair, nails and hard patches.

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Prevention
Above all, remember that the hard patches form as a defence when there is pressure or friction. So be careful about shoes that pinch or rub. You may get away with wearing them occasionally, but if you persist, your skin will try and protect itself!

Treatment
Whatever you do, don't ever take a blade to a callus! This approach is exclusive to chiropodists and podiatrists who will use sterile, disposable instruments and who have undergone specific training. If you try it yourself there's a good chance you will end up cutting yourself. Not only is this painful, but there's a high risk of infection, and wounds to the foot heal slowly. If you are diabetic, you must be even more careful as there is a risk of serious complications. So, both at home and at the salon, you should only be using a pumice stone or a foot file. Remember, too, that you aren't aiming to eliminate the hard skin completely: the patch has formed as protection and if you get rid of it completely, the exposed skin will be so raw and sensitive that it will be extremely painful until the patch reforms. 



Foot notes:
No shoe is bad per se; even so, wearing the same type of footwear or the same shoes all the time can cause problems. 

Keep your toe nails cut straight across and keep them short, particularly if you walk a lot or play sports.
When showering, make sure you soap and rinse your feet thoroughly.
Take care to dry between your toes.
Heat and humidity are the ideal breeding ground for foot problems.
If spots appear on your toe nails, or if you notice changes in thickness or colour, ask your doctor to refer you to a podiatrist, as these may be symptoms of a fungal infection.

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