Even in a part of the world used to sandals, the lack of foot care among men leaves a lot to be desired. It’s as though that part of the body – despite the pounding they get – is just too far away from the mirror to warrant attention. And yet typical problems for men include in-growing toe-nails, athlete’s foot, dry skin, corns between the toes – a product of damp resulting from the fact that men rarely let their feet breath and typically wear one or two pairs of shoes repeatedly – and toe-nail damage.
Even low level sports impact can cause damage: footballers typically suffer from nail damage on their kicking foot, cricketers on the non-leading foot while bowling. Rugby players, on the other hand, have had most of their nails crushed. Marathon runners have lost one or two altogether.
The result of mounting issues is that too often men regard their feet as lost causes. Foot care is overlooked. But a medical pedicure can turn them around much more than imagined. Corns and hard-skin are cut off; ‘accumulated material’ (as foot specialists delicately call it) around the cuticle is removed; oils and wax packs used to intensively rehydrate the skin; nails trimmed, stripped down and then buffed.
Sounds good? A few men may still have this perception that having their feet treated is rather feminine, but actually foot care is more akin to a check-up one would get for the teeth. Nor is it simply about not causing riots the minute you don your Birkenstocks. A twice yearly visit not only heads off the foot troubles that come with age, but can have genuine health benefits: a minor foot ailment can, for example, end up affecting the way one walks and consequently lead to more serious spine or joint problems. That odd bump of bone on the joint might become a bunion and in turn gather fluid to become a bursa. That slightly irritating but otherwise ignorable edge of hard skin on a toe is actually a corn. A corn can become an ulcer. And an ulcer is certainly not something to have flapping up over your flip-flops.
Indeed, while the assistance of a foot pro goes a long way to putting life back into your soles, the wise will adopt a regular pedi-care routine at home. Scrub, rub, soak and dry – it’s that simple. Use a foot-file over all dry and hard areas of skin once a week before showering or, better still, bathing. Exfoliate your feet once a week and rub them with an anti-fungal foot cream and a fast-absorbing oil. Soak your feet in warm salt water once a week too – a pleasant way to wind down while also fighting infection. Cut your nails straight across using scissors and not clippers – there should be a strip of white nail extending beyond the edge of the nail bed.
And, lastly, accept that your mum’s bath-time berating was well-intentioned all along. Yes, it’s surgical pedicure official: you really should always dry between your toes.