The above picture shows my feet in their preferred state: naked. Same goes for my hands; can´t sense my environment through fabric. No matter how you prefer your hands and feet, clothed or bare, if you rough it out there on a daily basis, you need to be taking special care of ´em!
As previously mentioned, a hobo´s most important possession is her body. Sure, walking and handling objects are everyday tasks and so we may not appreciate what our hands and feet do for us. But once you´ve experienced painful foot infections and severely cracked skin on your hands, you realize how much nicer it is to sense and navigate through your environment pain free. Add walking a few miles everyday, being exposed to the elements, carrying one´s belongings around, climbing rough terrain, and other common outdoor lifestyle activities, and you have hands and feet in desperate need for some serious care!
Lotion, lotion, lotion
Ok guys, I get it. Rough skin is a sign of hard work and manliness. You don´t want to be caught slapping butterfly-fart-scented lotion onto that skin and, god forbids, end up with soft hands! However, for those of us who are exposed to nature´s force, cracked skin is most definitely not an advantage, especially not when paired with insufficient hygiene. See, the skin protects us from harmful bacteria out in the environment. By letting your skin crack, you are pretty much asking for an infection. So, for crying out loud, if you have the means, invest a couple bucks in some Vaseline and keep your skin healthy. It is important to note, that excess moisture on your feet paired with air tight conditions can lead to infections as well (see below). A thin layer of lotion is sufficient for that area.
When foot meets moisture (for too long)
I am not sure there is a hobo out there who doesn´t know the struggle. Especially during the winter, we stuff our feet into socks and boots and when we release them 15 hours later, … well, you know the story. Unfortunately, chemical warfare inside shoes is not all one needs to worry about. Athlete´s foot is a common fungus that at first looks a lot like flaking skin between your toes (especially your pinky toe). Now, neither the fungus nor the gym you shower at, are the problem really. You could dance in a bucket filled with that fungus for hours and not get it…. unless you happen to stick your feet into a warm, moist environment afterwards. There are creams and meds to fight the fungus. Here are some tips to avoid getting athlete´s foot in the first place.
- Clean your feet at least once a day. Water and soap are optimal, but baby wipes will work just fine. No, the area in between your toes is not self-cleaning (your belly button isn´t either, by the way). Get in there and clean it good!
- Keep your socks and shoes as dry as possible. Sprinkle some baby powder into your socks before putting them on; this helps absorb moisture.
- Change your socks at least once a day. Wear different socks to bed or wear no socks at all (during the summer).
- Take off your socks as much as possible.
- Check for signs of broken skin between your toes. If the area is red and itchy as well, you may want to invest in some athlete´s foot creme.
- Keep them nails trimmed! It is very uncomfortable to have to dig out an ingrown nail.
Basic hygiene, lotion, and air. Do you have anything to add? More tips and tricks? Comment!