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April - May 2006


Health

Legs and feet: How to have a perfect pair

by Shashi Gossain B.Sc (Hons), MRPS, Member


A strict beauty routine is needed to keep your legs and feet in prime condition. Unfortunately the legs and feet usually get neglected in our busy day to day schedule.

Your legs carry you around all day and after a long day, they should be massaged using a rub or massage oil containing peppermint or menthol (which are especially invigorating for tired legs). Massaging the legs improves blood circulation, soothes muscles and helps speed tissue healing. It also reduces the formation of cellulite.

You can make you legs look longer, leaner and healthier by using a dry oil spray or lotion. For the best results exfoliate your legs first to remove dead skin cells leading to a healthy glow.

Using an oil, rub or body moisturising cream stroke lightly down the leg and firmly back up again. This helps encourage the flow of blood and lymph drainage. Lymph is the medium in which toxins are carried away from the body and primarily relies on muscle contraction in order to flow properly.

Gently lift, squeeze and roll the muscles at the back of the legs and kneed the thigh and buttock area. Then stroke the length of each leg down to the foot, work over the whole foot using your thumbs in circular movements, particularly on the soles to relieve pressure. Finally stroke up the legs to the buttocks several times and relax.

The calves and shins can also suffer from poor circulation due to cold weather, lack of exercise and long periods of standing or sitting. By applying a body moisturiser and using firm upper strokes, this will stimulate your circulation in the veins that carry blood back to your heart. If the legs and feet are not cared for all year round, a rough, thickened skin and ragged cuticles develop which become more difficult to treat.

Hot weather can be particularly nasty for tired toes because heat causes your feet to swell, tightening your shoes and creating considerable discomfort. In the winter, the opposite problem can occur; cold feet suffer from a lack of blood supply and sluggish circulation. The feet should be cared for on regular basis in the following way:

- Fill a bowl with warm water and add a few drops of essential oil (tea tree, rosemary or lavender) and soak your feet for at least five minutes.

- Dry your feet carefully with a clean warm towel making sure that your dry between each toe.

- Apply an exfoliating foot scrub and slough away dry, dead epidermal cells on the soles of your feet (skin which can harden to form callouses and corns)

- Rinse your feet with clean water and dry thoroughly once more.

- Moisturising cream or lotion should be applied to your feet with great care.

Skin on the feet is naturally tougher then elsewhere and needs longer to absorb treatment creams. Concentrate on the pads of skin just below your toes, where your feet do the most work and dead skin can accumulate. Apply a little cream on your toe nails to keep them soft and supple.

- Apply cuticle lotion to soften your toe nails

- Using a sharp pair of nail scissors trim your toe nails straight across, and don’t be tempted to create an oval shape (this can lead to ingrown toe nails)

- Apply cuticle remover to your nails, then gently push back each cuticle with a clean orange stick.

- Insert a set of two separators and apply a base coat, nail polish and top coat.
There are several products on the market to control foot odour, which is usually due to a build up of bacteria and fungi e.g. athletes foot which can lead to smelly feet. Care should be taken in public baths and swimming pools due to the infectious nature of verrucas which get infested on feet.
Regular walking and simple leg and calf muscle exercises are vital to keep the legs well toned!
By just taking simple measures at home you can have a perfect pair of legs and feet which you can show off in the summer!

The ultimate treatment to having beautiful feet is to apply Vaseline over the feet at night and wear heavy cotton socks to bed…when you wake up, your feet will feel absolutely wonderful!

TREATMENT OF SOME COMMON FEET PROBLEMS

ACHING ARCHES:
This often occurs if you are overweight or due to the extra weight that you carry during pregnancy. This is can be relieved by wearing thick – soled, soft shoes, with a good quality arch support.

BLISTERS:
A blister often heals itself in a few days, and if it is not broken, should not be touched. The top layer of the skin prevents infection, so the best course of action is to keep the blister cushioned.

However, if the blister gets broken, and the skin is chaffed, remove the dead skin with cuticle scissors after cleaning the area with an antibiotic soap.

CORNS & CALLOUSES:
When an area of the foot is exposed to constant pressure and friction, a corn or callous forms. This can be prevented by wearing good fitting shoes, with extra padding.

Using a pumice stone, scrape off the upper dead layers of the skin and apply plasters impregnated with salicylic acid. The feet should be kept well moisturised to soften any hardened skin.

IN-GROWN TOENAILS:
This can occur due to mal-formation of the nails, incorrect cutting of the toe nails or due to tight fitting shoes. To relieve the discomfort, soak the feet in warm water for about fifteen minutes, and then dry thoroughly. Use toenail scissors to carefully pull the nail away from the cuticle, and then trim straight across. Using a nail file, smooth the edges to avoid the nail digging in again.
Antiseptic cream e.g. savlon cream can be applied over the exposed skin and apply a small dressing over it, which should be changed daily.

To prevent blisters, rub some Vaseline over the whole foot and wear heavy cotton socks at night. This reduces the friction and prevents painful blisters from forming.

More Health

More articles by Shashi Gossain B.Sc (Hons), MRPS, Member

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