With June being designated Foot Health Month, it’s time for pharmacies to ‘step it up’ on the foot and leg care front, says Dawn Gay.

Feet and legs are hardworking parts of the body. According to the College of Podiatry, we walk an average of 115,000 miles in a lifetime, so giving the weight-bearing parts of our bodies the right care and attention is paramount. And the College is putting foot health and mobility in the spotlight in June during
its annual Foot Health Month. It advises that pharmacists look out for the latest information on the awareness campaign at www.scpod.org. Of course, pharmacies are not just responsible for stocking foot and leg care products, but for providing sound advice on common conditions and promoting a healthy foot and leg care regime too.

Verrucae

A tenth of people suffer from verrucae or warts at any one time and 80% of people are likely to buy their own treatment rather than seeking help from a GP (AC Nielsen 52 w/e 31 December 2017). Young people aged between 12 and 16 are more likely to suffer as they take part in contact sports and use swimming pools and changing rooms.

Emma McConnachie, podiatrist for the College of Podiatry, explains that verrucae are plantar warts that commonly occur on the soles of the feet or around the toe area. “They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is highly contagious through person-to- person contact. They should clear up of their own accord within six months. In painful cases, if they have been present for longer than six months, or if they are spreading, it is worth visiting a podiatrist,” she explains.

Bazuka, the UK’s top selling verrucae and wart range (NEMS Omnibus for Bazuka April 2011), is launching a new TV advertising campaign this month. The brand produces the pharmacy-only Bazuka Gel and Bazuka Extra Strength Gel, self-selection Bazuka Treatment Gel and Bazuka Extra Strength Treatment Gel with salicylic acid, and Bazuka Sub-Zero, which freezes the wart or verruca in one treatment.

Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is another highly contagious condition and, as a result, 70% of people will suffer from the condition (Home Health UK. Athlete’s Foot. 2018).

“Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection which is most likely to happen if feet are regularly in damp, warm conditions,” says McConnachie. “It tends to affect the area between the toes but can appear on any part of the foot.”

McConnachie advises pharmacists to alert customers if they notice persistent flaking, red skin. “This can look either wet or dry, as both are forms of athlete’s foot.” She advises over-the-counter remedies that can be applied just the once. “These tend to be the most convenient solution for people as they often forget to apply other treatments regularly,” she adds.

Recent research conducted by Bayer’s Canesten, which produces a range of anti- fungal treatments, reveals that 25% of athlete’s foot sufferers do not wear shoes in communal areas, potentially spreading infection.

Canesten spokesperson, chiropodist and podiatrist, Dr Bharti Rajput, says: “There have been several clinical studies which have shown a positive association between the spread of strains of fungus both in the home environment and in communal locations such as changing rooms, swimming pools and even on the beach. Recommend that people wear flip-flops or other suitable footwear in communal areas, avoid sharing towels, and ensure that feet are fully dry before putting on a clean pair of socks.”

Dry and cracked heels

Dry and cracked heels can appear during the summer when people wear sandals and the skin on the feet is unsupported and exposed. McConnachie advises wearing shoes with a heel support and treating cracked heels with good quality cream which contains clinical grade urea.

Matt Clegg, associate director of Skincare (UK) at O’Keeffe’s Company, which produces Healthy Feet foot cream, says that pharmacists should be prepared for the summer spike in foot care sales.

Pharmacists should create a seasonal feature in-store promoting a healthy foot care regime ahead of and during the warmer months. Products like O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet provide pharmacists with an opportunity, during these key seasons, to make additional sales, with fixtures that are seasonal, bold, bright and fresh,” he explains.

Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema can occur when the lymphatic system is damaged or disrupted and unable to drain excess fluid from the tissues, leading to localised fluid retention and swelling. This can be caused by complications from cancer treatment, parasitic infections and genetic disorders.

A number of treatments can improve symptoms, says McConnachie.

“Lymphoedema can be treated by using special compression stockings and bandages that are used to move fluid out of the limb that is affected. Elevating the limb and external pneumatic compression can also help. Feet should be checked daily for any changes in colour, texture, temperature or unusual lesions. If a patient is unable to reach their feet, a mirror placed on the floor can enable them
to be seen. Footwear should be made from natural materials such as leather as this makes them more breathable. Footwear with lacings or velcro is better to accommodate swelling.” 

Sprains and strains

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), around 30% to 50% of musculoskeletal injuries seen in primary care are tendon and ligament injuries. Ankle injury is the most common.

Pharmacists can recommend a topical analgesic to ease sprains, strains and sore and aching muscles.

There have been recent developments from The Mentholatum Company. At the end of last year, it announced a new name and packaging for the topical NSAID Deep Relief. The new pack for Deep Relief Anti- Inflammatory Gel is deep purple with green and white wording stressing the two active ingredients, ibuprofen and levomenthol. The pharmacy-only 100g Deep Relief Joint Pain Gel has identical graphics, with a white background with deep purple and green highlights.

Elaine Walker, brand manager for Deep Relief, says: “NSAIDs account for almost half of value sales in the topical analgesics sector and they continue to show strong growth. Mentholatum is committed to continuing this growth with Deep Relief, giving the brand a stronger and more powerful presence in the topical NSAID sector.”

Mentholatum also launched its cold therapy, Deep Freeze Glide-On, last July, which was supported with consumer and trade PR and social media. Kaye Mackay, senior brand manager for Deep Heat and Deep Freeze explains: “Deep Freeze Pain Relief Glide-on Gel brings real innovation to the cold therapy sector, combining effectiveness with convenience and ease of application. The product has broad appeal, especially with those suffering from chronic pain, and it also appeals to pharmacists because of its modern format and high impact on-shelf.”

 

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