There are plenty of foot-care products in the pharmacy and health store but which ones are worth buying (green light), and which should you avoid (red light)? We give you the lowdown on 10 popular foot products.
Non-medicated callus and corn cushions – these doughnut-shaped pads can help provide relief from pressure on corns and calluses. To get rid of corns, soak your feet in warm water for 20 minutes, and rub away the softened, dead skin with an emery board, pumice stone or rough wash cloth. If they keep recurring, consider changing your shoe style.
Callus and corn remover – preparations containing salicylic acid, including paint-on liquids and medicated pads, should be avoided except under professional supervision; especially by people with circulation problems caused by diabetes, for example. They may damage surrounding skin and cause infection.
Plantar wart remover – like a corn and callus remover (above), wart remover can damage surrounding skin, causing infection. A common home remedy recommended by some medical professionals is coloured duct tape – cover the wart with a piece of duct tape 24 hours a day, six days a week, for six weeks. Non-medicated, doughnut-shape pads can help relieve pressure.
Foot files – used for scraping off hardened skin, they’re okay but go easy with them – don’t scrape until you bleed! A pumice stone is gentler.
Moleskin – made of cotton flannel, with an adhesive backing, moleskin provides protection against friction that causes corns, calluses, bunions and blisters. It tends to stay in place better than band aids, even when wet from sweat, rain or puddles – it’s often recommended for running and hiking.
Detox foot pads –stick-on patches that claim to absorb toxins from your body through your feet while you sleep. They don’t work!
Foot powders – can help with smelly, sweaty feet, and tend to be better than sprays.
Orthotics – non-prescription orthotics are worth trying before you get fitted for prescription ones, which can cost hundreds of dollars. They may help provide support and cushioning for your feet which, in turn, may help with sore knees and back — although this isn’t backed up by studies. If you have fallen arches or flat feet, look for orthotics with arch support. For ongoing problems, consult a podiatrist.
Magnetic ankle support – elastic bandages containing small magnets are safe to use, but there’s no convincing evidence these magnets offer any therapeutic benefit above and beyond the support from the bandage itself. Save your money and get the cheaper, magnet-less one.
Heel balm – more than just a moisturiser for relieving dry, cracked heels, these often contain ingredients that exfoliate dead skin cells, leaving skin softer and smoother.
Know your experts
Podiatrists are allied-health professionals, dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of foot problems –including corns, bunions, ulcers, as well as lower limb biomechanical-related injuries and problems related to diabetes. Other services include gait analysis and prescribing orthotics. You don’t need a referral to see one, but some services attract a Medicare rebate – your GP can tell you if you qualify.
specialise in musculoskeletal injuries and conditions (such as arthritis). Some go on to further specialise in foot and ankle surgery, and can also become members of the Australian Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
prescribe and make orthotics.
Other allied health professionals that deal with foot, ankles and knees are physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors and osteopaths.