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Your Healthy Community: Stinky Feet

By By Katie Sciba
April 18, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 17, 2014 at 11:18 p.m.


What has a complex, dynamic structure, is often out of sight and out of mind, stinks sometimes and bears weight every day? Your feet.

I sat down with Dr. Khiem Vu to talk about our stinky feet and why they are important. Vu has been practicing internal medicine in Victoria since 2011.

He began his medical training in podiatry but moved to internal medicine. Vu said he enjoys internal medicine because he likes taking care of patients as a whole and helping the whole body be a fine-tuned machine.

He enjoys every day bringing a different challenge. I asked Vu: Who really needs to pay attention to their feet?

"Everyone. People with diabetes and any type of neurological problems need to take special care of their feet," he said. Good foot care is mainly prevention and common sense, which includes regular inspection of these parts. Vu said feet contain 28 bones, lots of muscle interplay, joints and dynamics that create balance and movement.

He said feet can be ignored greatly in health because people don't like attention to their feet. They can be ugly, they can stink and they can be covered up and forgotten. Giving care and attention to your feet can keep them from breakdown, injury, diseases and fungus.

"You change your underwear for a reason; you should also change your socks every day. You wash and put lotion on your face and hands; you should do the same for your feet," Vu said. "Establish a routine for inspecting your feet just as you would do a monthly breast examination."

You can develop lack of sensation and feeling in your feet called neuropathy. Neuropathy can be a result of medication side effects, obesity, nerve damage or injury, stroke, diabetes and other neurological changes.

This can lead to a condition called Charcot, in which the loss of sensation causes a breakdown in the foot's construct.

Stable structures like your arch are broken but not sensed. Pain is a protection so if there is no pain, you're unaware that an injury has occurred.

Incorrect healing and alignment can recur over and over until the structure of the foot changes. This results in pressure applying in odd places, which can end up causing breakdown, infection and, eventually, a wound.

So, here's your plan for keeping your stinky feet healthy and maybe not so stinky:

  1. Regularly inspect your feet. Even if you don't have any health problems, check them out. A callous is your body's way of saying you're putting too much pressure on one part. Look at the nails, the skin, between your toes. Be thorough.

  2. Use common sense. Wash your feet. Change your socks daily. Keep your feet clean and dry. Use lotion - your skin there is thicker but still needs moisture. Change your shoes. Don't wear shoes more than two years. If you are on your feet a lot change shoes often.

  3. If you are diabetic or neuropathic, have a physician examine your feet annually for nerve loss and sensation testing. Wear protective shoes at all times.

Katie Sciba is a writer, a licensed social worker, a pastor's wife and a mother from Victoria. She works for AARN Health Services and blogs online at Always Simply Begin.

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