Step into Neat Feet, Bahrain's specialist foot health service
Time Out Bahrain staff
At last Bahrain has a specialist foot health service that’s not just for diabetics and doesn’t need a doctor’s referral. We chatted to Sarah Marples, of new company Neat Feet, to find out what’s on offer.
“The first thing to point out is that I’m not a chiropodist,” says Sarah. “I’m a foot health practitioner which means I can do most of the things a chiropodist does apart from those things that require anaesthetic such as bunion removal.”
Having been in Bahrain a couple of years and seen the shortage of good footcare, Sarah, a former ecologist, decided to take the plunge and study for professional qualifications.
The online theory took around a year followed by a practical course at the Stonebridge Associated College in Bude, Cornwall, UK, where students are supervised by a qualified chiropodist in clinical rotations, covering everything from corn and callus removal to ingrowing toenails, leading to a recognised diploma and registration as a foot health practitioner.
She said: “It seems footcare is one of those things that no-one wants to do any more, it’s a bit like plumbing and carpentry, everyone needs it at some stage but it’s not seen as glamorous so there are fewer and fewer people doing it every year.
“People often ask how I can bear to deal with ‘other people’s manky feet’ but to be honest, I don’t see it like that. I find it quite therapeutic and rewarding, it’s great when people come to me in pain and I’m able to help and I want to be able to offer a service that’s accessible to everyone.”
Before setting up in March, unable to find suitable supplies locally, Sarah shipped all her equipment out from the UK including a vacuum autoclave which means all her instruments come in sterilised sealed packs that are only opened when she gets to a client’s home (yes, even better, she comes to you).
And those instruments include some pretty lethal looking beasts including razor sharp scalpels and a kind of drill with various different heads for tasks such as thinning down thickened toe nails and tackling stubborn hard skin.
In fact, her little blue box contains everything necessary for a very superior medical-style pedicure. For more details contact Neat Feet on (39 068 289). Consultations cost BD35 for adults for the initial visit and BD30 thereafter. BD20 for under 12s.
Sarah’s tips on common foot problems and what to do about them. What are the most common problems you see? Out here in Bahrain the most common problems are hard skin (callus) and corns due to the footwear that people live in, generally flip-flops and high heels.
How can we avoid corns, cracked heels, calluses? Cracked heels can be helped from initial build up by using a good quality moisturiser with urea in it (not more than seven to ten per cent). These can also be helped by keeping the hard skin down (this is usually what cracks). Hard skin build-up is caused by friction, so a shoe which doesn’t provide adequate support (such as flip-flops) can be a major culprit. As the foot moves around and causes friction, the skin is stimulated to produce more skin cells and retain those on the outer layer to basically prevent the friction from wearing away the skin. So a shoe which gives support and reduces movement plus a good moisturiser will reduce the build-up.
Corns are caused by intermittent compressive stress over a boney prominence, so a badly-fitting shoe, for example which pinches on a joint, will eventually lead to the development of a corn. Shoes which fit well, allowing the feet to spread as weight is placed on them (and therefore doesn’t put pressure on any areas) are the key to preventing corns.
How best should people look after their feet for example if they spend a lot of time on their feet, wear heels a lot or do lots of sport? You should always wash and dry your feet properly, especially those who’re on their feet all day and who play a lot of sport. Shoes (which are a dark, warm place which gets moist with sweat after a long day) are ideal places for fungus to develop - such as athlete’s foot. So ensure you change your socks daily and make sure they are made of a substance which will allow the foot to breathe, such as cotton. It’s also important to change your shoes daily to let them dry out if your feet get very sweaty and buy shoes which again are made from substances which will allow the foot to breathe. Treating the shoes with an anti-fungal treatment is also advised if an infection does occur, not just the feet.