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A Man's Guide to Foot Care

A Complete Guide to Foot Care for Men (Products & Tips)

When it comes to self-care, guys are always quicker to talk about things like personal grooming, wardrobe selection, cologne choices, teeth whitening and all the basic, easy-to-remedy stuff that we all deal with on the daily. It’s easy to go to a barber and get a haircut, and picking up items from the latest GQ summer style guide is effortless, if you know where to look.

But what about the nitty-gritty stuff we all deal with, yet never hear anything about? Like our feet, for instance.

Fellas, you don’t have to be bashful about it. Our feet are funky. We keep them locked up in these warm, moist, dark foot dungeons all day, so, of course they are. Yet, of all the self-care guides we read—and believe us when we tell you we’ve read ‘em all—almost nobody ever brings up how to take care of your funky-ass dogs.

Well, that ends today.

Identifying funky foot issues

Because they spend a lot of time in swamp-like climates, our feet are particularly susceptible to an array of skin conditions and other physical abnormalities. Luckily, if you take the right precautions and provide the proper care, most issues are curable or, better yet, completely preventable.

Calluses/Corns

What are They?

As our feet rub against the insides of our shoes, our skin naturally responds and builds up a protective thicker, harder layer of skin more popularly called calluses and corns. Calluses are broader, softer and all-around larger masses of harder dead skin, while corns are typically smaller, harder and deeper. They’re totally natural and very common depending on how soft your feet are and what kind of shoes you prefer wearing, but they can be unsightly and, of course, they feel gross.

Prevention and Treatment

If you start to notice calluses or corns developing, you might want to look into purchasing new shoes. You can also invest in some quality padded inserts to help ease up on the afflicted area. Far as treating them goes, there are plenty of at-home foot scrubbers you can purchase to file or scrape away the dead skin. If the corn or callus is particularly large, you may have to seek out a doctor to trim away the skin.

Warts

What are they?

Talking about warts is never pleasant because no matter where they show up—on your hands, your feet, your face or even your genitals—they’re caused by a virus. Feet are a common place for warts because the virus thrives in warm moist places. You can get them in public pools, dirty floors or anywhere, really. The most troublesome thing about them is that they are caused by the human papillomavirus and can be spread from person to person. If you notice these warts on your feet, it’s best to seek out the advice of a physician as soon as possible.

Prevention and Treatment

While there are precautions you can take to help reduce the risks of warts, there’s no real way to prevent them. Avoiding public pools, not walking around barefoot in any kind of public shower (at the gym, in a hotel room, at the beach, etc.) and making sure you’re keeping your feet clean and healthy are just about the only ways to protect against them, but even then, you’re still at risk. Investing in a good foot skin balm rich in omega-3 essential fats, proteins and vitamin E is good, too.

The most important thing to worry about with foot warts isn’t getting them, it’s spreading them. You can prevent spreading them by always keeping your feet clean and inside your shoes, not sharing/purchasing used footwear, keeping your nails short and groomed, and covering any warts that do pop up. The warts will usually go away by themselves in time, but if you experience any kind of pain or discomfort, see a physician about removal options.

Athlete’s Foot

What is it?

In no uncertain terms, athlete’s foot sucks. It’s extremely uncomfortable and causes your skin to dry out, itch and burn like no tomorrow. It can look like everything from a small rash to inflamed fluid-filled blisters. It usually forms in between toes or on the bottom of feet, but it can show up just about anywhere. It’s caused by a number of different fungi—including Trichophyton, Epidermophyton and Microsporum—that breeds in dark warm places (like the inside of your shoe). You can also find it in public pools, locker rooms, gym showers or anywhere else your feet can make contact with bacteria-laden warm moist surfaces.

Prevention and Treatment

As with warts, the best way to prevent athlete’s foot is by staying away from places it can turn up—including public pools, showers, etc. If you find yourself in any of these places, make sure you have a dedicated pair of flip flops on at all times. Because the fungus can also develop inside shoes and boots, you should always try to air them out and keep your insoles dry. You can also invest in anti-fungal sprays and treat your shoes and boots regularly. If you develop a case of athlete’s foot, don’t worry too much. It’s a minor fungal infection that can be cured with most over the counter remedies like Lotrimin and Tinactin. If you treat it but don’t see an improvement, a physician can prescribe heavy-duty stuff that’ll take care of the problem almost immediately.

Nail Fungus

What is It?

If you hadn’t already picked up on it, fungal infections are extremely common with feet because they thrive in warm, moist spaces. It’s not worth going into the specific fungi that can affect our feet because there are so many, but the symptoms are mostly the same: Yellow, thick, soft toenails; foul odors; and even discharge, depending on the severity of the infection. They can originate in your shoe—often in connection to a bout of athlete’s foot—but can also be found anywhere that’s damp, warm and where people walk barefoot. Think pools, public showers, locker rooms, hotel rooms, etc.

Prevention and Treatment

As with most other foot-related skin conditions, preventing fungus mostly just takes time and care. Nail fungus usually makes first contact with the skin under your nails, so washing your feet thoroughly every time you shower is an excellent way to reduce your risk. Keeping your nails trimmed and clean is also another great line of defense. Other than that, taking extra precautions in the usual places is the only real way to safeguard against it.

Treatment all depends on how severe the infection is, and could vary from washing your feet more thoroughly, to using an over the counter topical cream or even seeing a doctor and getting a prescription for oral medication. If the infection gets bad enough, you may have to contact a physician about removing the infected nail and starting an antibiotics regimen.

Physical Foot Pain

What is It?

There are so many types and varieties of physical foot pain that it would take us days to write about them all. And unfortunately, while some of them can be remedied with relative ease, others are genetic and can require surgery to correct—or worse, can’t be corrected at all.  Some of the more common—and treatable—foot pains include flat feet, high arches, bunions and hammertoe. They occur for a variety of external reasons, including improper footwear and posture issues, but also for a variety of genetic predispositions and preexisting medical disorders like diabetes.

Prevention and Treatment

When it comes to prolonged foot pain, things can get tricky. In some cases, like with hammertoe, purchasing more accommodating footwear that take pressure off your sensitive areas can be all that’s required. There are specially designed insoles and other commercially available remedies to help ease some of the symptoms. If all else fails, you’ll need to see a specialized podiatrist about either working with orthotics or, if the problem is severe, getting corrective surgery. It sounds a little unsettling, but it’s worth the effort of getting everything checked out.

Maintaining a Daily Foot Care Regimen

You know by now that we’re huge proponents of preventative treatments. Far as we’re concerned, the best way to treat any kind of health issue is by doing all you can to prevent it from happening in the first place, and that sentiment goes doubly in places that are easy trouble areas like our feet. Even if you aren’t having any problems today, you should still get into the swing of this daily regimen:

Keep ‘Em Clean

You can’t fight genes, and you certainly can’t immunize yourself to certain viruses and bacteria. You can, however, make sure you’re doing everything in your power to keep your feet clean and healthy. When you shower, make sure you’re scrubbing your feet and toes thoroughly and getting rid of all the sweat, dirt and grime they always manage to pick up. And we aren’t just talking a loofah treatment, either. Pick yourself up a soft bristle brush with a pumice stone back to get all the excess gross stuff off your feet. There are a ton of options out there, but this seven-inch brush from Aisilk looks great. Giving your feet a thorough daily scrub down should be more important to you than washing the rest of your body. Period.

Keep ‘Em Trimmed

The underside of your toenails is a hotbed for dirt and bacteria. By keeping your nails short and trim, you drastically reduce the chances of picking up bacteria or viruses. You also drastically reduce your odds of things like ingrown nails and possible infection. And don’t skimp when it comes to selecting the right trimmer. The Zwilling Pour Hommes are absolutely gorgeous and built to take a hefty beating while taking up zero space. The G-1008s from Green Bell also have a strange cult following that swears by the quality of these cutters.

Keep ‘Em Dry

Mens feet are always sweating. That’s just a part of our daily lives. That doesn’t mean you should slack in keeping your feet and footwear dry. Whether you’re working in an air conditioned office or out on a scorching jobsite, always make sure your footwear is dry and clean. Air them out often, invest in some kind of insole deodorizer, and even try switching up your socks. Most people wear cotton, but materials like merino wool, polyester and olefin are excellent for repelling sweat and odor.

Get Yourself a Good Lotion

Even if you’re not big on moisturizing (and you should be, by the way) when it comes to your feet, you need to make an exception. Aside from helping reduce the occurrence of physical skin conditions like calluses and corns, healthy skin is also less prone to fungal or viral infection. Keeping your feet moisturized is invaluable. When looking at a proper cream, don’t just go for regular body creams. Specialized foot creams contain things like calcium, carrier oils, essential oils and shea butter to really help keep feet healthy. We recommend O’Keeffe’s because it’s inexpensive and time-tested tough.

Don’t Scoff at Pedicures

No, we’re not joking. We obviously aren’t recommending these daily, but you should think of a pedicure in the same way you do an oil change. Every few months or so, it’s worth the cash (between $20-$35, roughly), to go get your feet looked at by an expert. Not only do they moisturize and scrub them, they’ll also scrape down unsightly calluses and corns, as well as trim your nails and cuticles, moisturize, and make sure your feet are battle-ready.