ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CAREGIVING
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
Fatty Acid in Olive Oil Wards Off Hunger
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
FITNESS
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Sleep and Do Better
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Add your Article

Get in Step With Summer Foot Care

SATURDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Summer is here, and many of you will be kicking off your shoes at home, at the beach or in the park. But is that a good thing?

To sort the myths from the facts about your feet, Dr. Tracey Vlahovic, associate professor of podiatric medicine and orthopedics at Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine, offers this information about your tootsies with a caveat -- always check with your doctor before starting any treatment:

Myth: Flats, flip-flops and going barefoot are good for your feet.

Fact: "This is a common misconception, because we always hear about the problems with high heels," Vlahovic said in a prepared statement. "But these three present their own types of problems." Flip-flops provide no support, which can cause plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains and tendonitis. Wearing flats can lead to severe heel pain and blisters, crowding toes and conditions such as hammertoes and bunions. Walking barefoot leaves feet open to cuts, scrapes, bruises, and puncture wounds along with skin issues or nail injuries.

Diagnosis: Flip-flops or flats are fine for a few hours, but you should stretch your Achilles tendon for a bit if you wear them for longer than that, Vlahovic said. Save walking barefoot for around your own home, unless you are at risk for diabetes or have peripheral vascular disease. In those cases, always wear shoes in and out of the house.

Myth: Over-the-counter scrubs and soaks for corns are safe and effective.

Fact: "At-home soaks or scrubs would just exfoliate, not remove corns," Vlahovic said.

Diagnosis: A corn is a buildup of skin with a hard center. This often is caused by a hammertoe in which the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. To permanently remove a corn, the hammertoe must be corrected so that it stops rubbing against the shoe. Or, just wear shoes with a wider toe box.

Myth: Feet don't need sunscreen.

Fact: "Skin cancer on the legs and feet actually has a high mortality rate due to people forgetting to do skin checks on that area. It's often caught too late," Vlahovic said. "This is due in large part to the fact that many people simply forget to apply or reapply sunscreen to the lower extremities."

Diagnosis: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and with both UVB and UVA protection every two to three hours to the feet. Apply more often if you're going to be at the beach, in and out of the water, or sweating.

Myth: All pedicure salons use sterile instruments, so it's fine to use theirs.

Fact: "Unfortunately, this is not the case with all nail salons," Vlahovic said. "As a result, the instruments can spread germs that can cause nail fungus and bacterial infections."

Diagnosis: Invest in your own nail files, clippers and cuticle sticks, unless you can be sure your nail salon sterilizes its instruments after each use. Also ask the technician if they have a clean bowl or basin or one with individual liners before sticking your feet in the motorized tub.

Myth: It's best to trim your toenails straight across.

Fact: Doing this, and cutting them too short, can lead to ingrown toenails, a true danger for diabetics. Untreated ingrown toenails can lead to infection and possibly an abscess requiring corrective surgery.

Diagnosis: Leave the nail slightly longer, trimming along the natural curve of your toe.

Myth: Soaking your feet in vinegar clears up toenail fungus.

Fact: "Vinegar can't penetrate the layers of the nail to get to the infection site. And without proper treatment, the infection can spread to other nails," Vlahovic said.

Diagnosis: See your dermatologist or podiatrist so they can perform a culture to see if it is definitely a fungal infection. Follow their instructions to the letter to avoid a recurrence.

Myth: Athlete's foot and warts aren't contagious.

Fact: Both are highly contagious, and easily spread in environments such as locker rooms or showers. They are often picked up through small breaks in the skin of the foot bottom.

Diagnosis: Keep your feet clean and dry, don't wear dirty socks and thoroughly clean your bath or shower area. "If one person in the household has it, everyone should be cautious and take proper precautions," Vlahovic said. If you must use a public shower, wear flip-flops.

Myth: Duct tape removes plantar warts.

Fact: Studies have shown duct tape to be one of the many ways to treat warts, but Vlahovic noted that several studies have shown duct tape in no better than a placebo.

Diagnosis: "If you have a plantar wart, don't pick or perform bathroom surgery on it," Vlahovic said "Don't put duct tape on it and expect it to go away, since there is a specific protocol for using it. See your dermatologist or podiatrist for this and other treatment options."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about foot health.



-- Kevin McKeever



SOURCE: Temple University, news release, June 13, 2008

Last Updated: June 21, 2008

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