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Shoes to Hurt For—Worth the Hurt?

They’ve become a part of our everyday wardrobe, but has this trend in highest of high heels been to the detriment of our feet?

They aren’t just for runways anymore. Stilettos used to be reserved for special occasions and maybe girls night out. Now, it seems women are doing everything from running after toddlers to taking casual strolls in them. They’ve become a part of our everyday wardrobe, but has this trend in highest of high heels been to the detriment of our feet?

Recent studies have shown that up to a third of women suffer permanent foot problems as a result of prolonged wearing of high heels. These can range anywhere from hammer toes to leg tendon damage. Still, the most common from those high heeled, pointed-toe shoes are ingrown toenails. In fact, high heels are the leading cause of cause of ingrown toenails.

These shoes create chronic pressure on the big toenails and prevent them from growing properly. Additionally, some shoe pressure can cause the nail to puncture the skin leading to infection.

So, you might be thinking who cares about an ingrown toenail? The truth is this painful experience can lead to other complications that can lead to permanent damage to and possible removal of the toenail if untreated.

People with diabetes should be particularly careful when it comes to wearing high heels and be on the lookout for ingrown toenails. Diabetics have poor circulation, which makes healing difficult. They also may be more susceptible to nerve damage from their diabetes, which can prevent them from feeling pain in their feet unil it’s too late. If ignored this condition, which is easily treatable, can lead to amputation.

There is no need to run to your closet and throw away all those adorable shoes that make you feel good about yourself. You can keep your high heels, but just take extra special care of your feet to help them feel and look healthy.

Here are a few tips to help manage ingrown toenails and prevent infection.

  1. Cut out a cardboard tracing of each foot and attempt to place it in the shoe when shopping for a new pair. If it does not fit, then the shoes are too narrow for you.
  2. Refrain from wearing tight hosiery
  3. Limit the amount of time in heels
  4. Wear heels on days that require limited walking or standing
  5. Trim toenails straight across the top
  6. Short soak of feet in lukewarm, soapy water or Epsom salts
  7. Dry feet and toes thoroughly with a clean towel
  8. Use a mild antiseptic solution on the toes

Dr. Heidi Renner is an integral part of the Loyola University Health System’s primary care team. She is double boarded in adult internal medicine and pediatrics and enjoys seeing patients of all ages from infants to geriatrics at the Loyola Center for Health at . In addition, she is an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in the departments of internal medicine and pediatrics. When not seeing patients she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, traveling and hiking.

Fit Mommie April 25, 2012 at 03:58 PM
For relief from wearing high heels or other uncomfortable shoes, I wear a pair of toe stretchers called.SmartToes. They help straighten and align toes and feet. I put them on at the end of the day, and it's made a huge difference in my comfort level. Great for hammer toe and bunions.
Heidi Renner, MD May 01, 2012 at 04:23 PM
It's such a relief to find something that works. Thanks for sharing!
Shawn October 31, 2012 at 04:22 AM
I agree that some women would sacrifice health in order to maintain beauty. However, I personally do not agree to this. I am not willing to suffer in silence just to keep a pretty external image that everyone sees from the outside, only to regret much later. I have broad feet and it is difficult to find the perfect pair of heels, which are often narrow. And I usually have to get a much bigger size than my feet due to the broadness which can cause discomfort. I have only a few pair of heels which I only wear to special occasions such as a wedding or to attend a meeting with clients at the office. Most of such occasions do not require me to stand or walk a lot. Thus, I've never had serious trouble with high heels as I tend to avoid them as much as possible as they are not that comfortable to be in anyway. http://www.bigshoes.com

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