Look better in sandalsFast!: how can I get my feet into better shape for warm weather? – Beauty Q+A
Q. I have a large bump on the side of my foot that doesn’t look great in sandals. What is it, and how can I get rid of it?
A. If that unsightly bulge is at the base of the big toe, it’s probably a bunion, caused by a misalignment of the big toe joint. A bunion occurs when the joint pushes outward and the toe turns inward, resulting in the protrusion. Despite what you may have heard, pointy or high-heeled shoes don’t cause bunions, says Stuart Mogul, D.P.M., a podiatric surgeon in New York City and author of Perfect Feet: Caring and Pampering (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2003). So what does cause them? An inherited foot type that’s predisposed to develop crooked joints. Also, if weight isn’t balanced evenly (which can occur if you have flat feet, low arches or a foot injury that hasn’t healed properly), walking and standing put undue pressure on the joint, eventually causing a misalignment.
Aside from the aesthetic factor, bunions can be painful. Orthotic inserts purchased from your podiatrist or over the counter often can slow the progression of a bunion by restoring the arch. Try Superfeet DressFit Inserts for High Heels ($16; superfeet.com), which redistribute your weight over the whole surface of your foot to take pressure off your arch and keep toes from being squished. You also can help minimize discomfort by wearing bunion pads (look for Dr. Scholl’s Felt Bunion Cushioned Pads, $3; at drugstores) or sandals/shoes made of soft leather, says Mogul.
Many of the orthotics and other treatments for bunions, such as cortisone injections, manage the problem only temporarily. To completely remedy it, surgery is the only option. The cost runs from $2,000-$5,000 per foot, is typically covered by insurance and can keep you off your feet anywhere from two days (for less severe bunions) to eight weeks (for more involved procedures).
Put Your Best Foot Forward
With the right care, your feet can stay beautiful and pain-free.
* Know your size. Wearing the wrong shoe size can lead to hammertoes (the toes curl under), blisters and pain. To get shoes that fit, shop late in the day, as feet swell as the day progresses.
* Treat corns, an accumulation of dead skin resulting from friction on toes. Manage them by exfoliating daily. (Try Tweezerman Pumice Stone & Nail Brush, $4; tweezerman.com).
* Reduce calluses. Like corns, calluses (excess skin buildup) often develop to prevent blisters. Smooth with a pumice stone, file or scrub like Dr. Scholl’s Pedicure Essentials Exfoliating Foot Scrub ($6; at drugstores).
* Moisturize regularly. Look for exfoliating creams with alpha-hydroxy acids to smooth scaly feet fast. Try Totally Nutty CocoMint Foot Lotion ($5; totallynutty.com).
Send questions to Shape, Beauty Q & A, One Park Ave. 10th Floor, New York NY 10016 fax. (212) 725 9228; e-mail Beauty Q&A@Shape.com.
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