For more than 20 years Ruth Trenkler active in medical foot care and has been a podiatrist since 1999. She has her own podiatry practice and has been president of the German Association of Podiatry (ZFD) e since March 2019.V., of the nationwide largest professional association for podiatry. The idea of helping other people get back on their feet was her motivation from the very beginning, to acquire as much knowledge as possible about feet and foot diseases and to be able to offer solutions and treatment methods for problems and complaints in this area.
Our feet are mostly hidden in shoes and socks – and thus out of sight. Do they thereby fall into oblivion? Let’s take sufficient care of our feet?
In fact, our feet are often treated stepmotherly and only noticed when they are on strike – aching, burning or itching, that is, when the shoe literally pinches.
"There is still a long way to go before we can adequately appreciate the foot as a valuable and thoroughly attractive part of the human being. Often, and especially among young people, the foot is perceived as unclean, which is absolutely unfair, considering the performance of this delicate and beautiful part of the body."
Podiatrist Ruth Trenkler
President of the German Association of Podiatry (ZFD) e.V.
What can I basically do for my feet to keep them beautiful and healthy??
Basically, everything that strengthens the muscles, tendons and ligaments and benefits the skin and nails does the foot good. This starts with a healthy diet and ends with exercises that strengthen the Strengthening muscles, regular Cleaning the feet with good products, (do not forget to dry them!), a good nail care and a Care of the skin with products that are selected according to the skin’s condition. If you also massage and knead your feet at the same time, you promote the Blood circulation and makes the muscles and small joints supple. Light and air should also be allowed to reach the feet whenever possible.
What can I do to prevent sweaty feet??
In general, one can work on three fronts here: the Shoe, the Stocking and the Foot. People who tend to have sweaty feet should change their shoes regularly, disinfect the inside of the shoes with appropriate products and allow the shoes to dry out sufficiently before wearing them again.
Cotton stockings are recommended, which can be washed a little hotter if necessary and thus disinfected. It is perfect to change the socks during the day.
If you are plagued by sweaty feet, you should wash them briefly in the morning and evening.
What is especially important for feet and nails in summer?
Good foot care is important all year round, but feet tend to be noticed more in summer, especially women who then walk in open shoes and pretty sandals, would like to have beautiful, well-groomed feet. Therefore, even before the summer, you should make sure that you regularly apply cream to your feet, preferably in the morning and in the evening! Lighter, dry calluses get so well under control with the appropriate care.
What do you recommend for daily care?
For the daily care of healthy feet I recommend: in the morning after showering, dry the feet well and apply cream. While brushing your teeth, stand on your toes a few times or make a few grasping movements with your feet, in the evening take a short foot bath, 2 – 3 minutes are enough, then dry off well, apply cream and massage a little, also do a few exercises with your feet while brushing your teeth. Once a week you should pamper your feet: a foot bath, a foot mask and a nice massage – you can also pamper each other.
From your daily experience as a podiatrist: what are the most common "foot problems" you encounter and what can be done about them?
With increasing age the skin dries out more and more. Daily creaming is important, because it prevents calluses and chapped skin, but also fungi and wart viruses have less chance to settle in with a well-groomed skin. Because if the skin suffers from dryness, small microcracks can develop and thus form entry points for germs. Products containing the active ingredient urea have proven to be effective, as they provide moisture so for good skin care.
If feet are not sufficiently maintained as well as put into too narrow shoes, it comes by the arising pressure increasingly to the callus formation. The lack of elasticity of the callus due to its dryness can cause cracks to form. At the beginning they are hardly visible, but they already cause discomfort when walking. chapped skin can be treated with special, intensively caring creams. In the advanced stage, treatment by a podiatrist is advisable.
Warts are infections caused by viruses. There are different types of warts on the feet, the most common are the so-called plantar warts, which, because they hurt when walking, are often mistaken for corns. Wart viruses have an easy time when the skin is softened, z.B. in the swimming pool or with sweaty feet or if the skin is not cared for and gets little protection.
The treatment of warts varies, but basically, to support a wart treatment, you should make sure that the foot is warm and well supplied with blood, that the skin is well cared for and that you strictly observe hygiene so that the warts do not spread further.
Unlike warts, corns are caused by three factors: pressure, friction and a malposition of the foot or toe. First there is the formation of calluses. If the callus is not removed, horn cells can migrate into the depths. There they press on nerves in deeper skin layers and cause discomfort.
The shoe that caused the pressure point should be replaced. Corns that are in the process of forming can be easily removed by softening them – for example with special plasters – and carefully removing the cornification. Diabetics should always consult a doctor before using the appropriate plasters.
Similar to an infection with warts, the fungus needs a port of entry resp. A skin whose protection is weakened. In contrast to skin fungus, which can usually be controlled relatively quickly, nail fungus is long-lasting and stubborn. In this case, an efficient and effective treatment is important, with preparations that eliminate the fungus, so that it dies and can no longer spread. Especially in the summer, when it is warm, when we go swimming a lot and the feet are moist and the nails are softened, you can apply preventive nail fungus products.
The nail is not always ingrown when it hurts in the nail fold. Often tight shoes, support stockings or an injury causes pain in the nail folds. Therefore, in these cases, a podiatrist should be consulted.
Athlete’s foot, warts& Co. are among the topics that people do not like to talk about. Do you have to be ashamed of it?
No, there is no need to be ashamed in any case. Often those who shower particularly often are more likely to get a fungal infection than others. That is why it is so important to dry the feet thoroughly after showering and to care for the skin with a cream.
Why is our skin on the feet so susceptible to dryness, etc.?.?
We have hundreds of sweat glands per square inch of skin on our feet, but no sebaceous glands to protect the skin. The reason: sebaceous glands are only found where there is hair, and on the soles of our feet we have no hair at all. If we do not take care of this skin or use the wrong products, which seem to soften the skin, but only put a film over it because they contain kerosenes or parabens, the same effect occurs as when you put a piece of leather in water: the leather becomes brittle and fragile. Another major reason for increasing dryness of the feet is that with age the production of sweat glands decreases or dries up, without proper care the skin dries out.
"If the skin cannot breathe and the sweat cannot evaporate, the horny cells first swell up and then dry out because they are not supple."
Podiatrist Ruth Trenkler
President of the German Association of Podiatry (ZFD) e.V.
Do men and women have different problems? Take care of their feet differently?
There is a considerable proportion of men who attach great importance to well-groomed feet. But very often it is the women who encourage the men to pay more attention to their feet. I see a problem for men in the fact that many men have to wear closed shoes to work, even in summer, because of their job. This means darkness, pressure and increased moisture for the feet.
Many athletes also suffer from skin and nail problems due to their sport.
Which active ingredients and applications do you recommend for foot care??
Products that contain urea are recommended, but plant-based active ingredients are also good, Likewise, good oils are suitable, such as z.B. Hemp oil excellent for skin care.
When is it advisable to visit a podiatrist?
We should always go to a podiatrist when there is pain, either in the nail area or in the skin. Even if you’re not sure how to cut your nails or care for your feet, a trip to the podiatrist can help. It would be very desirable to pay more attention to our feet. Especiallyyoung people should learn that there is a profession that is incredibly valuable and beautiful, where you can help a lot of people, and that our feet are a real marvel that deserve to receive more attention and daily care.