ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
CANCER
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Hidden Salt in Diet Haunts Many With Heart Failure
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer 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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