A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

27 Things Your Podiatrist Won’t Tell You

What favorite shoe keeps podiatrists in business? What do podiatrists wish you'd do before your appointment? Here, what your foot doctor wants you to know.

1 / 27
Shoemaker measuring customers feet, close up
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

When you go into a shoe store, your salesperson should measure your feet

A lot of you have been wearing the same-size shoe for the past 30 years because no one measures your feet anymore, but feet often get bigger as you age.

2 / 27
krit mahawat/Shutterstock

Your feet don’t need to smell

You use antiperspirant on your armpits to keep them from getting stinky, don’t you? The same stuff works on your feet. Try the spray kind. Alternate your shoes so they have a chance to dry completely, and wear socks. Otherwise, the sweat will promote the growth of bacteria that stay in your shoes. Here’s another important reason to never wear shoes without socks.

3 / 27
Man having hydrotherapy water footbath in spa setting

Infections from nail salons keep us in business

If you want a pedicure, book the first appointment of the day, when the equipment is cleaner. Those footbaths can be especially germy. Even if technicians spray the basin between customers, many of the tubs have drains and filters that don’t get cleaned.

4 / 27
foot pedicure applying woman's feet with red toenails in toe separators

Toe separators, bunion splints, and “yoga toes” may help you feel better…

…but they aren’t going to get rid of hammertoes and bunions. You’ve got to come to me for that. If you have a structural problem, a $6 device isn’t going to reverse anything.

5 / 27
Close up of female legs of worker standing near her office. The woman is wearing formalwear and shoes on high heels. She is holding a handbag. Copy space in left side
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Some podiatrists will shorten toes or do injections so you can wear high heels more comfortably

But I don’t believe in cosmetic surgery for feet. You shouldn’t have surgery if you’re not in pain, because you will have pain after surgery—that’s a guarantee. It has to be worth it. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.

6 / 27
young girl in sportswear squatting on a track and ties her laces for sport.

Buy shoes at a specialty running store, even if you just walk for exercise

Well-trained staff will help you get the right athletic shoe. They can really analyze your foot and gait.

7 / 27

I’ve seen all sorts of things, including people who have shot their feet

You really shouldn’t clean your loaded gun after you’ve had a couple of beers. Another dumb move: mowing the lawn in flip-flops. The first weekend of every spring, doctors see a lot of injuries.

8 / 27
Cracked heel on woman's foot, health background to create work about people
Fecundap stock/Shutterstock

If you have dry, cracked feet, try AmLactin

It’s just an over-the-counter lotion, but it’s like a miracle. Put it on a couple of times a week, and the calluses will just slough off. You can also try these homemade foot scrubs to pamper your feet.

9 / 27
Hallux valgus on wooden background, bunion in foot

Sometimes if a bunion is really bad, a patient will ask me to amputate her second toe

I won’t do it, because it won’t fix the problem. I tell those patients to tell their daughters: Get your bunions taken care of now. If you wait until they get really bad, they’ll be much harder to fix.

10 / 27
Vladimir Sazonov/Shutterstock

I don’t have a problem with people getting pedicures, but please don’t shave right before you go

You might be embarrassed by your stubble, but it will be worse when bacteria and fungus enter the microscopic nicks on your ankle and give you an infection. In the meantime, look out for these subtle signs of disease your feet can reveal.

11 / 27
Nozdracheva Galina/Shutterstock

Over-the-counter “custom-fit” orthotics are a bit of a gimmick

They’ll help if you just need some arch support and padding, but they’re nothing like the orthotics I make after creating a mold of your feet in my office. Orthotics are like eyeglasses for the feet. They’re made to correct the specific biomechanics of the way you walk. Don’t fall for these other little shoe mistakes that are killing your feet.

12 / 27
Physiotherapist explaining feet model to patient in clinic

A lot of you hurt your foot or ankle exercising and head straight to an orthopedic surgeon

But unless he or she is specifically trained in the foot and ankle, coming to me is a better bet.

13 / 27

Fit your shoe to your longest toe

That might not be your great toe—a lot of people’s second toe is longer.

14 / 27
foot prints on sand at the beach in the afternoon, Phuket, Thailand
iMoved Studio/Shutterstock

Barefoot running? Great idea—if you can stay on sand or earth

Do it on concrete, and you’ll end up with stress fractures and some very bad inflammation.

15 / 27

Here’s a home remedy to cure your stinky feet

Make some really strong black tea, then soak your feet in it two or three times a week for 20 minutes. The tannic acid has been shown to temporarily shrink sweat ducts so they don’t work as hard. Plus, here are some more smart tricks to keep your shoes smell-free.

16 / 27

Please don’t ask me to file or cut your nails

I’m a podiatrist, not a pedicurist.

17 / 27

I wear flip-flops too…

But if you wear them every day, all day, you will end up in my office eventually. Those shoes are designed for the beach and pool, not for walking all over the place. Make sure you know these doctor-approved tips about wearing sandals.

18 / 27
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

I have people who tell me that I changed their life

And it turns out all I did was tell them to wear a bigger size. I think, Did that really change your life? But if they had a lot of pain, it’s a big deal.

19 / 27

A sock that’s too small can cause a blister

Yes, just like a shoe can. Go with what feels comfortable.

20 / 27

Don’t get gypped when buying new shoes

A good shoe salesman will always watch you walk or run.

21 / 27

The best socks today are not 100 percent cotton

Look for materials that promise to wick moisture away.

22 / 27
A tube of generic ointment or cream with a droplet squeezed out
roger ashford/Shutterstock

You want to try an over-the-counter remedy for your nail fungus first?

Go ahead. I know you’ll be back to see me before long. Find out how to get rid of toenail fungus.

23 / 27

Your cuticles are there for a reason

You can push them back, but don’t cut.

24 / 27
Close up of a pencil writing on paper.

I had a patient who had stepped on a pencil when she was 8 years old

Ten years later, her foot was bothering her. When I went in, I found a pencil lead, perfectly intact.

25 / 27
Marcus Krauss/Shutterstock

Orthotics and arch supports should be firm

If it’s jelly-like or soft and smushy, then that’s not support, that’s cushioning, and it’s probably not going to help your problem. Don’t miss these common foot problems and podiatrists’ simple solutions.

26 / 27

Many women are embarrassed about showing me their feet

I can’t tell you how many women have told me that they feel as if they are going to the gynecologist when they have to take off their shoes!

27 / 27
Closeup of woman's foot on the edge of a bath with foam, care

Please wash your feet before you come see me

And change your socks. I can tell if you’ve worn the same ones for three days.

Here are some tips for finding a doctor you can trust.

Sources: Jane Andersen, a podiatrist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Marlene Reid, a podiatrist in Naperville, Illinois; Carly Robbins, a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio; Jacqueline Sutera, a podiatrist in New York, New York; Cary Zinkin, a podiatrist in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest