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7 Ways to Make Your Feet Look and Feel Better

Solutions to all kinds of common foot problems


By Jessica Dysart

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woman checks her aching foot

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Rid yourself of unsightly fungus, swollen ankles and more for the best looking — and feeling — feet of your life. Here are the seven best ways to have beautiful, healthy feet:

(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.)

Feet

1. Soothe Swollen Ankles and Feet

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Swollen ankles and feet are usually a sign of fluid retention, but they could also be a sign of serious medical issues like infections, blood clots and other diseases. If you experience swelling in the feet and ankles, you should seek medical advice.

In the meantime, there are some things you can do at home to relieve the puffiness.

Use leg wedges or pillows to elevate your feet, try support socks and watch your salt intake, since salt can lead to more fluid retention.

Go for a walk, since getting your muscles moving will decrease swelling. Similarly, if you’re caught sitting for long periods of time, be sure to move your ankles and feet around, and stand up when you can.

You can also soak feet and ankles in a warm bath with Epsom salt, which releases magnesium, helping to reduce the swelling.

2. Slough Off Dead Skin

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Rough, cracked heels can be unsightly and even painful. For relief, treat them with a soak and moisturizer.

Here's how: Soak your feet in warm water for about 15 minutes to soften the skin, then use a foot filer like a pumice stone or a PedEgg to slough dead skin away. Follow with a moisturizer, like coconut oil, Vaseline, body butter or a glycerine product like O’Keefe’s for Healthy Feet Daily Foot Cream. Finally, maximize the moisturizing by slipping on cotton socks and wearing them overnight.

3. Get Rid of Nail Fungus

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Fungus is characterized by thickened nails that break easily, white spots or dark or yellow discolorations. We may be more susceptible to developing it as we age, because of slower-growing nails and changes in blood flow, according to the Mayo Clinic. The good news: most fungal infections can be treated at home. Filing nails, applying over-the-counter antifungal cream and even Vicks VapoRub can help.

Trim nails and file off any white spots before applying antifungals; thinning with a file first helps the medicine penetrate.

You can also try applying a small amount of Vicks VapoRub to the affected area daily. A small study of VapoRub use found that 83 percent of participants showed positive treatment results at the end of the study and slightly more than half saw partial clearance of the fungus. However, the treatment period was long — the study followed participants for 48 weeks — so your results may vary.

Exercise

4. Treat Heel Pain

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Most heel pain occurs because of plantar fasciitis, or straining of the ligament that supports the arch. Plantar fasciitis can develop from wearing ill-fitting shoes, having flat feet or high arches, being overweight or doing a lot of walking or running.

Treat heel pain by stretching the feet and calves, like in these exercises recommended by The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. You can also massage your feet by rolling them over a tennis or golf ball.

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5. Prevent Ingrown Toenails

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Ingrown toenails, which occur when the nail grows into the skin, can cause pain, redness and infection. Luckily, preventing them is simple.

Be sure to cut your toenails straight across rather than rounding them, since rounded edges increase the chance of developing an ingrown toenail. Tight, poorly fitting shoes and socks or pantyhose that continuously push on your nails can also lead to ingrown toenails.

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6. Remove Hair

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Hormonal variations that happen as a result of aging can lead to some unwanted changes, including hair sprouting in new places, like your toes.

If you’ve noticed more hair on your toes, or it looks darker and you want to get rid of it, there are several options. Tweezing might be easiest if there aren’t a lot of hairs. Home waxing is quick and easy, as well, but if you want something relatively painless, depilatory creams only require rubbing on and wiping off. Note that they can cause irritation if you have sensitive skin, so try a small patch first.

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7. Relieve Bunion Pain

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Bunions are bumps that protrude at the base of the big toes, and they may be caused by genetics, how we walk or, for women, wearing high heels, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Although ridding your feet of bunions requires surgery, there are home remedies to alleviate the pain they might cause. Wear supportive shoes and try inserts to stabilize your foot in your shoe. Bunion pads — found at drugstores — cushion and protect the bunion, too. Warm foot baths or ice packs may also help with soreness, and over-the-counter drugs will help with the pain.

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