Foot problems are not new to humanity. Before the invention of the wheel, feet took humans everywhere. Hence, ancient people developed footwear to protect their precious feet from injuries and the cold while walking. Nowadays, advancements in medicine and technology have made walking and running more comfortable despite the use of modern transport.
However, that isn’t to say that foot problems no longer exist. Many people still suffer from ailments on their toes, soles, heels, and sometimes, the muscles of their feet. There are several reasons why these issues happen. This article will explain the common foot problems most people face, how they arise, and how to avoid such conditions.
Common Foot Problems:
Fungi that grow in moist and warm environments, like the spaces between your toes, cause athlete’s foot. You’ll know if you have it when you see white, scaly rashes around your toes or the soles of your feet. Other observable symptoms include foul odor, itching, peeling, and a slight burning sensation on the skin.
You can contract this condition if you don’t wash your feet regularly and keep them dry. You may also get the fungus if you walk barefoot in damp places, such as a public shower or locker room, or if you constantly use dirty socks. Thus, you must always thoroughly clean your toes and dry them well. Once free of moisture, wear dry and clean socks or footwear and avoid walking barefoot in places where other people frequent.
If you have an athlete’s foot, the usual treatment for it is an over-the-counter antifungal cream, powder, or spray. You may also apply antifungal sprays or powders inside your shoes for maximum protection. Should the condition persist even after taking an OTC remedy, you must consult a reputable podiatrist in a nearby hospital, clinic, or online like at easternidahofootclinic.com for specialized treatment and prescription medication.
Callouses And Corns
People who often wear ill-fitting shoes are most susceptible to callouses or corns; these hardened areas of dead skin form after repeated rubbing against a surface. Callouses typically appear on the soles, such as balls and heels of your feet. Meanwhile, corns may manifest anywhere on your feet, from the sides to the top and your toes. It can be painful and challenging to walk when you have either, especially when they’re infected.
You can usually treat corns and callouses at home by moistening the dead skin buildup with warm water and then removing it with an emery board or damp pumice stone. Be gentle when you do this on your own since excessive rubbing may cause your skin to bleed and get infected. After enough rubbing, apply a lotion or cream to moisturize the area to soften the skin as it heals. If all else fails, consult a doctor promptly.
A bunion is a hard bump that forms near the base of your big toes. The worse the bunion becomes, the more likely your big toe turns inward, compressing against your smaller toes.
There are a few reasons why bunions develop. These causes include:
- Congenital deformity
- Wearing narrow-toed shoes frequently
This condition can worsen if you wear high heels often. Therefore, it’s better to avoid wearing constricting footwear to initiate the healing of a bunion. Doctors recommend that patients wear wide shoes with padded inserts and take OTC medication specifically for bunions. If the bunion gets worse, you may need surgery.
Tight shoes or heels may cause blisters on your ankles or the balls of your feet because of the constant friction the skin receives. These pockets of fluid can be painful and can make walking a challenge, especially if you keep wearing ill-fitting footwear.
To treat a blister:
- Cover the blister with a bandage and allow it to break on its own instead of forcing it to pop.
- Once it does, apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection, then change the bandage.
- Keep the affected area covered, and wear comfortable shoes as much as possible while it heals.
Generally, you don’t need a trip to the hospital for a blister. But if you have other ailments that make you prone to infections, you may have to visit a doctor for advice.
A hammertoe is when your second, third, or fourth toe is bent in the middle joint, crossed, or stuck at another angle. This condition often occurs if you keep wearing shoes that don’t fit well.
Doctors usually advise their patients with hammertoe to wear wider footwear if the affected toes are still flexible enough. Using shoe pads may also help reposition hammertoes and provide pain relief. It’s quite a harmless condition that you can treat.
However, there are instances where the toe bends and stays that way no matter how long you’ve done treatment. Surgery should help when this happens. So, seek medical attention if you think your hammertoes are in serious condition.
Mallet And Claw Toes
Mallet toes and claw toes almost look similar to hammertoes. But the difference lies in how your toes are bent.
Claw toes, as the name suggests, make your toes look like claws. Your toes nearly appear like they’re already touching the skin of the bottom of your feet. The base joint is curled up, while the middle joint is curled down. In mallet toes, only the first joint near the tip is bent down.
Because of the irregular position of your toes with these conditions, you may also have corns or callouses. A podiatrist might suggest a treatment similar to ones for hammertoes as its causes are the same. But sometimes, surgery is the best option for worst-case scenarios.
Incorrectly trimming your toenails may cause an ingrown to happen. Tight shoes that press toes together might also result in ingrown toenails. When you have an ingrown, the toenail is digging into your toe’s skin, where infections can stem.
Fortunately, most home remedies can treat an ingrown quickly. Firstly, trim your nails straight across on the top to avoid ingrown toenails, but not too short. Next, if you have this condition, soak your feet in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day. Then tuck in a piece of cotton or dental floss under the affected area so that the nail doesn’t stick to the skin as it grows.
Hospital treatment should remedy ingrown toenails in people with blood or infection-related ailments like diabetes. A doctor will lift the nail and prescribe an antibiotic to protect the affected area from infection.
Gout is a medical condition that has been recorded since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It’s a type of arthritis that stems from uric acid buildup on the joint tissues and fluid of your toes, specifically your big toes. Toes are one of the parts of your body that gets cold quickly, and that drop in temperature can crystallize the uric acid on your joints, causing gout.
Common symptoms of gout attacks include:
- Sudden heat in the affected area
- Intense pain even from the slightest touch
Keeping hydrated with lots of water and getting enough bed rest should help gout attacks to subside. A physician may refer you to a rheumatologist for specialized treatment in cases of severe and frequent gout attacks.
Having feet that sweat more than the average person isn’t harmful, but it may cause discomfort, like constantly slipping in your shoes. The sweaty foot condition is known as hyperhidrosis and is usually inherited genetically. Though sometimes, stress, hormones, and particular medication might trigger it, too.
Sweaty feet are often the root of foul odors, which causes discomfort for the person with the condition and people who can smell it. It may also make feet prone to infection due to constant moisture collecting on the skin.
Daily washing of feet with antibacterial soap and sprinkling antifungal powder or cornstarch after drying should help curb this condition. If you want better sweat prevention, find some moisture-wicking socks, and make sure to wash them regularly or change socks within the day if possible. Doctors may prescribe antiperspirants, topical treatments, injections, or surgery for severe sweating feet.
Different foot problems have distinct causes. But in general, there are three significant reasons people could have painful medical conditions on their feet and toes. Here are the probable causes:
As mentioned, tight or ill-fitting shoes usually cause foot problems. Such footwear will cramp up your toes and press them into uncomfortable positions. Heels are the common reason for many foot issues in most women. So, no matter how pretty or expensive your heeled shoes are, it’s best to wear them sparingly.
Failing to wash your feet regularly will cause dirt buildup and bacterial and fungal growth on damp spots. Fungi and bacteria love places where it’s moist, and the spaces between your toes provide the perfect area for them to thrive, especially if you don’t clean them daily.
Injuries Or Other Body Ailments
In some cases, foot problems result from past or current injuries left untreated. Certain chronic illnesses like diabetes may also lead to nerve damage on the feet of the patient. If you had a fracture on your foot bones and didn’t get it treated properly, it could cause painful issues.
Therefore, to avoid mild or severe foot problems from developing, you must take several steps to protect yourself. Thankfully, many foot care routines are easy to perform at home and often don’t cost much. You can even do it yourself. So, to help you out, here’s a brief beginner’s guide to proper foot care:
Check Your Feet Regularly
When you find yourself unoccupied, why not examine your feet? It might sound like a strange activity, but checking your foot’s condition at home will help you spot any deformities, bumps, or bruises early.
Clean, Exfoliate, And Moisturize
Cleaning your feet washes away the bacteria and prevents fungal growth. Exfoliating with a foot scrub and moisturizing with lotion or body oil helps keep your feet soft and supple. Target your foot care products on the dry areas since dry feet are prone to cracking and getting callouses, which can become sore over time.
Trim And File Toenails
It might be okay to allow your fingernails to grow long, but toenails generally need to be kept at a certain length. But make sure you don’t trim them too short, or you could risk getting ingrown nails. The white area of your toenails should be around 1-2 millimeters, which isn’t too long nor too short. Also, trim your nails straight across and not curved. This shape allows them to grow forward. You can use a nail file, too, if necessary.
Wear Proper Footwear
Shoes were created and developed for protection, comfort, and speed. Thus, you must wear shoes designed for specific purposes, like running shoes for jogging or sandals and cloth sneakers for leisure wear. Your footwear must also fit your feet, but they shouldn’t be so loose that you constantly get out of them as you walk.
To know if your shoes are a perfect fit, take note of these points:
- The balls of your feet must fit comfortably in the widest parts of your shoes.
- The shoes must have enough depth inside so your toes won’t constantly rub the tips.
- When trying on shoes, stand up and walk around. Ensure a half-inch space between your big toe and the shoe tip.
Wearing comfortable footwear that conforms to the size and shape of your feet helps prevent various types of foot pain from happening. Make sure to invest in proper shoes and avoid ones that look nice yet are painful to wear. Don’t forget to inspect all your pairs from time to time to check for damage, tears, and dirt buildup inside the shoes.
Get Professional Pedicures
If you don’t have the time or energy to care for your feet properly every week, consider visiting a professional pedicurist. They can provide your feet with the proper care and attention, especially if they have ongoing medical conditions requiring treatment. Visiting a pedicurist is also recommended for those worried about making mistakes in their foot care and pedicure routines.
Conclusion: How to Deal with Foot Problems
Most people often forget their feet when it comes to overall body health. But they don’t know that getting around is nearly impossible if the feet are injured or sore. That’s why it’s essential to check your feet frequently, whether or not you feel any pain. Clean them daily, and get regular pedicures from professionals to ensure your feet stay healthy.