Hand and Foot Care
Hands and feet are often among the most neglected parts of the body. They do so much for us and yet often don’t receive the care and attention they deserve.
So, we’re going to look at some common issues related to hand and foot health which may come up as you get older.
Age-related foot problems can affect just about any part of your foot, including the skin, connective tissues, joints, nails, and circulation. And if you’ve noticed any changes in how your foot looks or feels, it’s important to consult your doctor. Below, we look at three common foot conditions and how you can prevent or treat them.
An ingrown toenail is when the side of the nail grows into the skin. This can cause your foot to be sore, swell, and get infected, and in some cases the nail may need to be removed by a doctor. To prevent it, avoid cutting your nails too short and cut them straight across rather than curved (you can file the sharp edges after with a nail file). You should also avoid wearing tight shoes.
As we get older, our skin tends to get drier as we make fewer natural oils. This can cause the skin on our feet to harden and crack, which can be painful. If the cracks are very deep, they can become infected, which is particularly dangerous if you have diabetes. To prevent cracked heels, make sure you apply a moisturizer every day and consider using a pumice stone to remove dead skin. You may also consider using a foot bath at home to help soothe your muscles, hydrate your skin, and help relieve aches and pains. If your heel gets swollen and red, you should visit your doctor as you may need a prescription ointment.
As we age, the ligaments in your feet can stretch, reducing the height of your arch, causing you to have flat feet. Flat feet are often nothing to worry about but can cause hip, knee, and lower back pain. If this is causing you problems, you should see a foot specialist who’ll be able to advise you about what shoes to wear, insoles that can support your feet, and foot stretches to try.
Hand function decreases as we get older, especially when we’re over the age of 65. This deterioration is due to a number of factors including changes in the joints, muscles, tendons, and the bones of our hands, as well as underlying conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or Parkinson’s disease. Below we look at some common age-related hand conditions you may be experiencing.
Weaker Grip Strength
Grip strength tends to decline from the age of about 55 and may affect your ability to carry out everyday tasks, such as opening jars or turning doorknobs. Doing regular hand exercises can help slow down this process and improve hand strength and flexibility, and there are even devices that can help with this. Though it’s always important to start slow and not overexert yourself to avoid injuring your hand. Furthermore, if you notice a sudden drop in your grip strength, it’s important you see your doctor as this may be a sign of another condition. Other devices that may make life easier are ergonomic items such as pens, cutlery, and hairbrushes, as well as larger phone pads.
Arthritis is a common condition which can affect the hands, leading to pain, swelling, and inflammation. If you suspect you have arthritis, it’s important to see your doctor for a formal diagnosis, who will then be able to recommend a treatment plan. This might include anti-inflammatories, a steroid shot, and possibly a splint to protect your joints from overuse.
Something else that people notice about their hands as they grow older is that the skin here appears to age more quickly than other parts of the body, which can lead to dryness and itching as shin struggles to retain moisture. This is because your hands see more sunlight than the rest of your body which is damaging to the skin. So, make sure to protect your hands from the sun with sunscreen and gloves. This will also help you prevent skin cancers from forming on the backs of your hands.
This information is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.