Top 10 BS Myths About Your Feet

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1.Soaking your feet in vinegar treats toenail fungus

The myth: The highly acidic pH level of vinegar (especially apple cider vinegar apparently) can cure that nasty long standing fungal infection in toenails.

The fact: Fake news. Most topical treatments are pretty ineffective against long standing fungal nail infections. If the infection is superficial, you may have some progress but typically this is not the case. Yet I often hear patients mention it to me anecdotally and as I generally say to anyone who asks me: If it really worked, I would have a cupboard full of it to give you, but it doesn’t and I don’t. Leave it in the pantry.

2.Cutting a ‘V’ in the top of your nail will stop ingrown toenails

The myth: Apparently cutting a ‘V’ in the nail that is ingrown will bring the two sides together to form a narrower nail plate, thus allowing the ingrown part of the nail to grow out of your skin and solve the problem.

The fact: What a ripper! Afraid not though. This is a really common home remedy that was really commonly done a few years ago. I even had one patient tell me their local GP recommended the V method.  The best case scenario is you walk around looking ridiculous with your nail cut and you have a great conversation starter. Worst case scenario, you cut into your nail, damage the nail plate and cause some real damage with a permanent nail plate deformity. No thanks. Give this a miss, and go get it checked properly.

Because nails grow from the base, this will do nothing except make you look ridiculous, and possibly even worsen ingrown toenails due to deforming the nail plate

3.Wearing flat shoes or going barefoot are best for the feet

The myth: Going barefoot or wearing dead flat shoes are best for your feet, because heels are evil and awful.

The fact:  Wearing stilettos for a 10 hour day on your feet is absolutely problematic, but as many of my long time patients will recall from my ranting, so is wearing flat shoes for most people. Most of my peers actually recommend a small to moderate heel pitch, depending on the person’s individual foot structure and function, and as I always say, wear the right shoe for the right occasion.

4.An ‘acid pad’ is the best treatment for a corn

The myth: Using a medicated or acid corn pad from the chemist is the best way to treat a corn.

The fact: Oh my god, I hate these things. All Podiatrists. I’m surprised they are still allowed to be sold given the amount of damage and danger they pose to someone who is vulnerable or immobile. Using these pads correctly is likely to take the top layer of callous away and may even temporarily relieve discomfort; but they also burn the skin over the top and surrounding the corn and this can create a new problem, like an ulceration that is much more difficult to treat. If you want proper treatment of a corn get it done properly by a podiatrist. If you have any in your cupboard, give them to someone you don’t like.

5.Urinating on your feet will cure Athlete’s Foot

The myth: Exactly as it sounds.

The fact: I have no idea why this is popular. Apparently it has something to do with the body neutralising your urine so that it is sterile and when you apply it to the fungal infection on your foot it cleans it. Apart from being more fake news, this one is disgusting. Get some tinea cream from the chemist and save the urine for where it belongs – the toilet.

6.My bunions came up overnight

The myth: One day I didn’t have bunions and I woke up with them last week.

The fact: No you didn’t. It doesn’t work that way. Bunions (hallux abducto valgus) are in fact a malalignment or dislocation of the underlying joint between the toe and metatarsal, caused by functional issues, footwear and in some cases genetics. They can come up fairly rapidly (as in, a period of months, or years, not hours) with the perfect storm of circumstances, but never overnight. You just haven’t been paying attention to your feet for a long time.

7.Antibiotics fix ingrown toenails

The myth: A course of oral antibiotics will fix ingrown toenails

The fact: They will absolutely fix the infection and stop the pus and mucous coming from your toe. They will also help settle down some of that redness. But they won’t get rid of the nail embedded in the side of your toe. I can though, and so can my colleagues.

8.If you need orthotics you will have to wear ‘grandma shoes’

The myth: Orthotics only fit into orthopaedic ugly shoes that were made for your grandma

The fact: Don’t worry ladies, orthotics these days can be made to fit in all sorts of shoes including heels, ballet flats and so on. While initially some (fashionable) footwear change may be required to treat your injury, once this is under control we can now be a lot more flexible with how we support your feet.

9.Nail salons and pedicurist sterilise their basins and instruments

The myth: Nail salons and pedicurists are safe because they sterilise their basins and instruments

The fact: This is a classic. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth as these sort of places can provide a lot of business for the profession when they mess up, but the overwhelming evidence points to this being untrue. Not because they are sinister, there is no evil cabal of nail salons plotting against the world’s population, but mostly because of time, and cost. Often these places will use antiseptic cleaning methods rather than sterilising. There are distinct differences between the two, and whilst this sounds okay, the reality is that these cleaning agents and methods rarely kill all organisms and you’ll probably leave with a healthy dose of fungus to match your French polish. The safest option? Have your nails cut and callous reduced by a podiatrist using sterile instruments, and then take your own nail polish to the salon to have them painted. Or seek a beautician or similar who sterilises their tools. You will pay more money of course but at least you’ll have peace of mind.

10.Podiatry is only a weekend course to qualify

The myth: It’s only a weekend course or 6 month course to learn how to be a podiatrist

The fact: I wish! I would have save a whole stack of money on my HECS and a lot of anxiety over my exams. Podiatry is in fact, a university qualified profession that typically encompasses 4 years of university and a progressive assessment structure before you graduate. We are primary care givers and whilst we fall under the umbrella of ‘Allied health’, as a profession in Australia we are the only ones in that category who are endorsed for schedule 4 prescribing rights and can refer for Medicare bulk billing services of X ray and ultrasound assessment. Hard to squeeze all that in for a weekend course!

If you have any questions about any of these myths, or need some help, please call us on 9542 3491. Have a wonderful week,

Scott

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Elizabeth Seymour
    November 24, 2021 6:12 pm

    Hi Scott, that was excellent information.
    I wish I could persuade my friends to stop going to nail salons, I cringe when I see toenails shaped like fingernails. I do bang on about it but usually end up looking foolish, they are also so sure that everything is sterile because the footbath gets the once over with hand sanitiser.
    Loved all the other myths, Cheers Liz

    Reply

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