Staying foot-healthy in your heels

As friends and long-time readers of SRxA’s Word on Health know, high heels are at the top of my list of vices.  High heels have been blamed for a number of foot problems, yet most women, myself included, aren’t willing to give our shoes the boot.

Now, podiatrists at Loyola University Health System are giving us another reason to reconsider.

It turns out that high heels and pointed-toe shoes are leading cause of ingrown toenails. This painful condition, also known as onychocryptosis, occurs when the toes compress together making the big toenails grow into the skin. Ouch!

High heels and tight-fitting or pointed-toe shoes create chronic pressure on the big toenails and prevent them from growing properly. Additionally, shoe pressure can cause the nail to puncture the skin leading to infection.

Those of us addicted to our heels are probably thinking “Yeah, yeah”.  What’s a bit of pain?  While the “flats” fetishists are probably cheering.

If you’re among the former group, here’s some advice to manage ingrown toenails and prevent infection:

  • Cut out a cardboard tracing of each foot and attempt to place it in the shoe when shopping for a new pair. If it does not fit, then the shoes are too narrow
  • Refrain from wearing tight hosiery
  • Limit the amount of time in heels
  • Wear heels on days that require limited walking or standing
  • Trim toenails straight across the top;
  • Soak feet in lukewarm, soapy water or Epsom salts
  • Dry feet and toes thoroughly with a clean towel
  • Use a mild antiseptic solution on the toes

If, despite the above measures, pain, swelling and discharge develop, the toe is likely infected and will need to be treated by a podiatrist.

Dr. Rodney Stuck, DPM, professor of Podiatry Medicine at Loyola, warns that people with diabetes should be particularly careful of ingrown toenails. They may have poor circulation, which makes healing difficult and may be more susceptible to nerve damage which can prevent them from feeling pain in their feet. If ignored, this condition, can lead to amputation.”

In general, however, if you give your feet the attention they need, they will look and feel healthy. And a bit of extra care will allow those of us who prefer high heels to continue to wear them.

Our Darwin Award Winner of the Week

SRxA’s Word on Health was so shocked to read the following news headline – “Washington man loses his arm from a homemade guillotine” that we would like to share the following cautionary tale with our readers.

According to the man in question, the guillotine unexpectedly dropped on his shoulder Thursday severing his arm. However it’s what happened next that shocked us even more.

According to news reports, following the accident, he left the arm behind and rushed to Bellingham Urology Specialists.  Doctors and nurses from the office rushed to help but it was10 minutes before an ambulance took him to the hospital two blocks away.

Police officers later discovered a camp in a wooded area near the clinic which was believed to be the temporary home of the victim. At the camp, officers located the severed arm and a homemade guillotine, which they said was at least 12-feet tall and had been constructed from timbers that the man found by scavenging the local area.

A lot of thought and a lot of work and lot of preparation went into making this device,” said Mark Young of the Bellingham Police.  Apparently guaze and tape were found near the scene, indicating that this might have been something other than an accident.

Although the condition of this man is not known at this time, and we wish him well, should he not recover he will be a worthy contender for a Darwin Award. As many of you know, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect the gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in such an extraordinarily idiotic manner, they thereby improve the human race’s chances of long-term survival!

While we don’t normally judge others – “Guillotine Man” qualifies on so many levels. Not only did he build the contraption in the first place, it seems he decided to test it on himself.  Then having successfully demonstrated how well it works he failed to take the severed limb with him for potential reattachment and, in perhaps his most genius moment yet, decided to seek help at a urology clinic!

We’d like to leave you with one final message – please don’t try this at home!  Have a great weekend.