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Trench foot and getting a GP

May 22 2009
There is little worse than sore feet, particularly when you spend hours daily walking the streets of London... Dear Flo, I have wet, white skin on the bottom of my feet. When I walk it is really sore. They smell bad and it seems to be getting worse. What do you think it is? Mr Charles St James's Park Dear Mr Charles, There is little worse than sore feet, particularly when one spends hours daily walking the streets of London. It sounds as if you may have trench foot. Soldiers in the First World War got this condition because their feet were constantly wet from being in the trenches. When sleeping rough, it is often difficult to take your shoes and socks off, either through fear of having them stolen or because it is too cold. But your feet need air and a dry environment to stay healthy. Change your socks regularly, especially when they have got wet. Wash your feet and dry them well, especially between your toes. Try to remove your shoes and socks daily so air can circulate around them. If you use a day centre where there is a medical service, go and see the nurse. The nurse will offer a foot soak in a special solution to help dry your feet out. This is a really common condition for homeless people so don't be embarrassed about the smell. Without healthy feet life on the street can be even more of a struggle, so see a nurse as soon as possible. Flo Dear Flo, I'm sleeping rough, can I get a GP? Name withheld Dear Anon, The NHS is trying to ensure equal access to health services for all UK residents, regardless of their housing status. Fortunately, throughout London there are teams of doctors and nurses helping those who find it difficult to access healthcare. Most large day centres have a nurse or doctor who visits regularly. There are also medical centres that care for the needs of homeless people. Details of these services will be available at your nearest day centre, and some are listed on page 7. For more information you can freephone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 48 or go to NHD Direct.
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