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Women’s foot and nail care

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Women's feet take lots of punishment, and it shows. The rough, calloused skin on the heels needs regular moisturising or it may become dry and cracked. The moist skin between the toes is prone to athlete's foot. Even the skin on the tops of the feet is vulnerable - it can get sunburned if it is not protected from ultraviolet radiation.

Yet we all want good-looking feet. Fortunately, there are many over-the counter products to soothe, treat and protect your feet.

Calluses and rough spots on women's feet

Regular use of a pumice stone or foot file on damp heels and calluses will keep your feet looking good in open-back shoes.

Soak your feet in water or a footbath for 10 to 15 minutes to help soften the skin. Then gently remove the thickened skin with a pumice stone.

Moisturising foot scrubs made from botanicals such as crushed fruit stones, sugar or chemical exfoliates also help remove dead skin. After you scrub, apply a rich foot cream or balm containing shea butter or cocoa butter. Look for balms or heel creams containing salicylic acid or urea to soften tough calluses.

Moisturising creams for cracked heels and feet

If your heels become extremely dry and cracked, see a podiatrist (chiropodist) for advice and treatment. If they're not that bad, there are plenty of moisturising products from which to choose. First, you might pick up some medicated heel pads, sold at pharmacies, to soften calluses while you walk. After you've exfoliated the calluses, use a heavy cream to moisturise tough skin on your heel. Look for creams containing petrolatum, an emollient, or a humectant such as lactic acid, which draws moisture into the skin.

Antifungal lotion, powder or spray

Athlete's foot and toenail fungus can be difficult to treat, as every woman who's experienced these fungal infections knows.

Over-the-counter antifungal treatments come in many forms - lacquers, creams, lotions, liquids, spray powders and spray liquids. Anyone dealing with a nasty case of athlete's foot fungus has probably tried at least a few of them. These products work best on mild cases of athlete's foot and sometimes not at all with toenail fungus, which is difficult to treat.

They contain antifungal active ingredients such as clotrimazole, econazole, miconazole, tolnafate or terbinafine. Tea tree oil may also help with mild cases of athlete's foot.

Look for special antiperspirant powder or spray if you have sweaty feet. Powders usually contain aluminium chloride hexahydrate to help keep feet dry.

Take care to dry your feet thoroughly after bathing or showering and before you apply antifungal treatment, and wash your towels and bathmats regularly on the hottest cycle.

Athlete’s foot is highly contagious, so wash your hands well after touching your feet and never share socks, towels or flannels. Wear flip-flops or other foot protection if you visit public swimming areas.

Remember, dark and damp conditions allow the athlete's foot fungus to flourish. Basic good foot hygiene is the best way to prevent fungal infections. Wash your feet frequently and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes, where the culprits typically take hold. Wear fresh socks or stockings daily and try not to wear the same pair of shoes two days running.

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