Common Foot Problems
Fungal and Bacterial Conditions
Fungal and bacterial conditions, including athlete's foot, occur because our feet spend a lot of time in shoes - a warm, dark, humid place that is perfect for fungus to grow. Fungal and bacterial conditions can cause:
- dry skin
If not treated right away, an infection may be hard to cure. If not treated properly, the infection may reoccur. To prevent infections, keep your feet - especially the area between your toes - clean and dry. Change your shoes and socks or stockings often to help keep your feet dry. Try dusting your feet daily with foot powder. If your foot condition does not get better within 2 weeks, talk to your doctor.
Dry skin can cause itching and burning feet. Use mild soap in small amounts and a moisturizing cream or lotion on your legs and feet every day. Be careful about adding oils to bath water since they can make your feet and bathtub very slippery.
Corns And Calluses
Corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure when the bony parts of your feet rub against your shoes. If you have corns or calluses, see your doctor. Sometimes wearing shoes that fit better or using special pads solves the problem. Treating corns and calluses yourself may be harmful, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. Over-the-counter medicines contain acids that destroy the tissue but do not treat the cause. Sometimes these medicines reduce the need for surgery, but check with your doctor before using them.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. They are sometimes painful and, if untreated, may spread. Since over-the-counter preparations rarely cure warts, see your doctor. A doctor can:
- apply medicines
- burn or freeze the wart off
- take the wart off with surgery
Bunions develop when the joints in your big toe no longer fit together as they should and become swollen and tender. Bunions tend to run in families. If a bunion is not severe, actions that may help the pain can include:
- wearing shoes cut wide at the instep and toes
- taping the foot
- wearing pads that cushion the bunion
- physical therapy
- wearing orthotic devices or shoe inserts
Other treatments include:
Ingrown toenails occur when a piece of the nail breaks the skin - which can happen if you don't cut your nails properly.
Ingrown toenails are very common in the large toes. A doctor can remove the part of the nail that is cutting into the skin. This allows the area to heal. Ingrown toenails can often be avoided by cutting the toenail straight across and level with the top of the toe.
Hammertoe is caused by a shortening of the tendons that control toe movements. The toe knuckle is usually enlarged, drawing the toe back. Over time, the joint enlarges and stiffens as it rubs against shoes. Your balance may be affected. Wearing shoes and stockings with plenty of toe room is a treatment for hammertoe. In very serious cases, surgery may be needed.
Spurs / Osteophytes
Spurs are calcium growths that develop on bones of your feet. They are caused by muscle strain in the feet. Things that can make spurs worse include:
- standing for long periods of time
- wearing badly fitting shoes
- being overweight
Sometimes spurs are completely painless - at other times they can be very painful. Treatments for spurs include using:
- foot supports
- heel pads
- heel cups
Sometimes surgery is needed.
Related Resources - Foot Care And Foot Problems
For more information on foot care, also contact:
Source: Foot Care, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health