What are the foot problems seniors commonly face?
Here are a few common ailments, all of which can be prevented and treated.
- Ingrown toenails. This occurs when a sharp piece of nail pierces the skin surrounding the nailbed. Rather than trying to pull it off, carefully trim the nail straight across so that it is even with the TOP of the toe. Trimming regularly will also help prevent future issues. If you have an ingrown toenail that appears red and/or infected, you should see a doctor as soon as possible– especially if you have diabetes.
- Heel spurs. Putting too much pressure on your feet – by wearing shoes that don’t give proper support, standing too long, or being overweight – can cause calcium deposits to form on your heel. These calcium deposits can lead to considerable pain and discomfort. You can give your feet a break with heel cups, heel pads, or other forms of support. If a heel spur continues to cause you pain and discomfort, make an appointment with your doctor.
- When a toe doesn’t have adequate room to move, the knuckle can become inflamed and draw the toe back. Hammertoes are especially problematic for seniors because they can affect balance and raise the risk of falls. The remedy is simple: Wear shoes and socks that give your toes plenty of space.
- Dry skin. You can reduce the itching and burning of dry skin with moisturizers, preferably the kind with lanolin or petroleum jelly.
- Corns and calluses. As mentioned, wearing shoes that fit properly is the best way to prevent painful foot sores. If they do develop, you can pare them down by gently rubbing them with a callus file or pumice stone. You can protect them from further damage with moleskin or nonmedicated pads. The medicated corn-removing treatments sold in drugstores may be tempting, but use extreme caution: They can damage healthy skin, which ends up causing even more pain. These products are especially dangerous for people with diabetes or other circulation problems. If you have one of these conditions, contact a doctor at the first sign of a callus or corn.
- Athlete’s foot. This condition is not exclusive to athletes. This fungus thrives in moist, dark, warm areas, which makes the foot a compelling target. If you notice peeling, blisters, redness, and itching (particularly between the toes), quickly apply an athlete’s foot powder or spray to the fungus. You can prevent athlete’s foot by keeping your feet dry and clean and, whenever possible, wearing open-toe sandals or going barefoot. Please note that going barefoot can be hazardous if you have diabetes or other circulation problems. If you have a question or concern call your primary doctor, Podiatrist or Foot Care Nurse.