Caring for our feet is an important part of our overall health. So, if you’ve been wearing sandals and open backed shoes or even no shoes all throughout the summer, you may have already developed hard skin and worse cracked heels, which according to beauty expert Angela Lopez of Belle-Toi in Bournemouth, is a problem that will only become worse in winter when they become chapped, crack and split, unless you do something about it now.
If cracked and dry feet are left untreated they may become painful and especially, if the cracks begin to bleed. New and ill-fitting shoes will make matters worse causing the skin to rub or even tear and wearing wellington boots whilst gardening will only add to the nightmare problem
The skin on the feet is naturally drier as there are no oil glands present there. And it’s surprising just how many of us forget to moisturize and pamper them after giving them a tough daily workout. Some medical conditions such as eczema, diabetes, thyroid, and psoriasis lead to dry and cracked feet, so make sure that you haven’t got any underlying health problems too
An old remedy that Angela remembers from her childhood is to mash a ripe banana and apply to cracked heels for about 15-20 minutes then wash off with lukewarm water. You have to repeat this once a week or you could try her mum’s regime and apply coconut oil to your cracked heels and then put on a clean pair of white socks, leaving them on overnight.
Skin infections, corns and calluses, blisters, warts and fungal infections can really make life difficult. All of these conditions are the body’s way of alerting you to the fact that the skin on your feet needs to be cared for properly.
Walking barefoot for any length of time can cause thick calluses under the soles and it may be a sign that there is an underlying problem, such as bunions or flat feet, which causes pressure between the skin and the bone underneath it, so get it checked out if you are worried.
Wearing open footwear also means that you’re more likely to develop a fungal nail infection, so always clean your feet every day and pay attention to drying between your toes to avoid this infection
Make sure your nails are properly clipped and maintained too as doing this will help prevent infections. You must also clip straight across the end of your nail to avoid nails in-growing. Any suspect looking skin or nail must be checked out by a professional.
Foot baths are deeply relaxing and restful and an easy way to enjoy herbal remedies that can improve your overall health and at the very least, improve your mood. Angela’s go-to herb for a foot bath is fragrant and soothing, thyme, which she says is a great way to refresh tired feet. Angela also likes to use lavender and not just the blooms, but the leaves and stems too and recommends drying without rinsing for feet that feel fresh and soft.
Sage, is Angela’s preferred herb for treating smelly feet and for treating red, cracked and itchy areas on the feet. She recommends adding sage and cider vinegar to the footbath to combat these problems
Any gardener and country walker will know that blisters may occur when feet get hot and sweaty, and your socks start sticking to the feet! This is because sock and foot then rub against each other and the inside of the shoe. Fluid fills up a space between layers of skin to protect the area, like a small balloon. That’s how blisters form.
Usually, blisters drain by themselves in a few days, but when you wear the same wellingtons or boots in the garden every day, you may have continued friction on the site of the blister and it may become infected, usually with athlete’s foot.
This fungal infection thrives in warm, moist areas. Susceptibility to this contagious infection is increased by poor hygiene and the hot, sweaty conditions created by wearing the same Wellington boots or trainers for days on end
Smelly feet is a problem when wearing wellingtons (or trainers) for most of the day because the perspiration emanating from them can’t evaporate inside wellingtons and closed shoes
Warmth and moisture create a perfect incubator for bacteria, which produce fatty acids that make feet smell strong. It is a good idea, therefore, not to wear the same shoes every day so they get a chance to dry out. Obviously, you should wear clean socks each day, making sure that they are made from cotton, as manmade fibres like nylon will only exacerbate the problem.
Putting a few drops of tea tree oil into a basin of warm water and bathing your feet in it for about 20 minutes at the end of each day will help to keep your feet healthy. Alternatively, you could soak your feet in cold tea or better still, try 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water, which will reduce the level of bacteria, which cause odour.
Angela’s daily luxury foot spa recipe
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons glycerine
2 teaspoons rosewater
Pumice stone/foot scrubber
Take a basin of warm water and add salt, eight to 10 drops of lemon juice, one tablespoon of glycerine, and one teaspoon of rosewater. Soak your feet for about 15-20 minutes in this water.
Using a pumice stone or a foot scrubber, scrub your heels and the sides of the feet.
Mix one teaspoon of glycerine, one teaspoon of rosewater, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply the mixture on your cracked heels then put on a pair of socks and leave it on overnight.
Wash your feet in lukewarm water in the morning.
Repeat this for a few days till your heels become soft.