ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
CAREGIVING
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Milk Destroys Antioxidant Benefits in Blueberries
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
FITNESS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Tune Up Your Health With Music
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
The Unmedicated Mind
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
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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