Research from the UK.
One in five women 'ashamed by their feet'
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed
6th June 2013 - Nine out of 10 women have experienced problems with their feet, while one in five are embarrassed by them, according to new research.
As a result, more than one in 10 women (12%) have resorted to covering up their feet in front of people because they are ashamed by their appearance, says The College of Podiatry - the professional body for registered chiropodists and podiatrists.
Blisters and cracked heels
The findings are based on an online survey of 2,000 men and women carried out by One Poll last month. It found the top 10 foot problems experienced by women are:
- Blisters (55%)
- Cracked heels (45%)
- Veruccas (28%)
- Corns (24%)
- Ingrown toe nails (20%)
- Athletes foot (20%)
- Bunions (13%)
- Joint problems (11%)
- Excessive foot odour (9%)
- Arthritis (8.8%)
Despite these problems, 19% of women have not sought help because they did not think their foot complaint was important, The College of Podiatry says.
The biggest cause of foot problems is choice of footwear, according to a separate survey of 60 registered podiatrists in the UK, with a lack of awareness of common foot complaints also contributing to the problem.
It is predominantly women, not men, who are more likely to put up with discomfort and pain in the name of fashion. Nearly half (43%) of women admit they have continued to wear uncomfortable shoes even though they hurt their feet - twice as many as the men in the survey.
A third (36%) of women have worn shoes they knew did not fit them because they looked nice; with just 12% of men reporting to have done the same.
The younger the woman, the higher the heel worn, with 20% of women aged 18-24 owning a pair of six inch high heeled shoes compared to 10% of those aged 25-42 and just 3% of 35-44 year olds.
Our hard working feet
Lorraine Jones, a podiatrist from The College of Podiatry says in a statement: "It’s shocking how little regard we show for our feet. Feet are one of the hardest working parts of the body and in a lifetime you will walk in excess of 150,000 miles.
"As a result of general wear and tear, most of us will suffer with some sort of foot complaint at some point in our lives but we are seeing a lot of cases which could have been prevented - particularly amongst women.
"Conditions like blisters and cracked heels may sound like minor ailments, but they can cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment. Many people don’t seek treatment early enough which means they suffer unnecessarily and their problems get worse."
She advises a common sense approach when it comes to choice of footwear. "High heels and flip flops are fine to wear occasionally but not all the time. For day to day wear you should opt for a well-fitting round toed shoe with a heel height of around 3cm." (1.2 inches)
Promoting healthy feet
The survey has been released to coincide with June's national Feet for Life month, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of good foot health.
There are a number of simple self-help techniques for reducing foot problems and keeping your feet healthy, according to the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. It recommends:
- Practicing good hygiene by keeping your feet clean
- Applying lanolin or olive oil to dry skin
- Avoiding using hot water and strong soaps
- Drying skin carefully and not rubbing hard with a towel
- Using a mild fungicidal powder to reduce the chances of athlete’s foot infection
- Not cutting corns, callouses or ingrown toe nails
- Avoiding bruises, burns, cuts, cracks and frostbite - and seeking professional help if any of these injuries occur
- Avoiding the use of harsh or strong medications such as antiseptics containing iodine or carbolic acid, including corn cures, or chemical compounds and ointments for athlete’s foot
- Avoiding exposure to cold and dampness
- Seeking immediate professional care for any ulcer or sore on the foot or leg.