3.4.8 Foot hygiene (foot care)
We spend a lot of time on our feet. Our feet sweat as we walk day and night and the sweat accumulates on all foot surfaces and between the toes. The sweat may stain the shoes and can produce an awful odour.
What causes sweat on the skin to produce an unpleasant odour?
The action of bacteria as they decompose the sweat.
As well as bacteria, sweat also encourages fungal growth between the toes. This is called athlete’s foot. The symptoms of athlete’s foot are scaly skin and sores or blisters, which start between the toes but can often spread to the soles of the feet. This is a minor irritation and often disappears by itself but sometimes these cracks and sores become the site for other infections. The feet should be washed daily, or at least twice weekly.
Foot hygiene is also important in the treatment of podoconiosis, sometimes known as mossy foot. This disease causes swelling in the feet and lower legs and is common in certain parts of Ethiopia. It is a reaction in the body to very small soil particles that have passed through the skin of the feet. Podoconiosis can easily be prevented by wearing shoes at all times but, if someone is affected, careful washing and drying of the feet is an important part of the treatment.
Toenails do not have much role in the transmission of diseases. However, they can accumulate dirt and this can increase the potential for bacterial and fungal breeding e.g. athlete’s foot.