It’s a proven fact that over 70 percent of the population are set to have foot problems at some point in their lifetime. With these sorts of statistics, it’s safe to say that foot conundrums do happen, even when we take the proper precautions. Never mistaken discomfort and pain as normal or acceptable, because there are a range of diseases and health conditions that can be first detected in the feet: circulatory disorders, anemia, kidney problems, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Have no fear, because the team from Heel to Toe is here to help you decipher the funky things that might be happening with your feet. In order to keep your feet healthy, it’s crucial to be familiar with the most common of foot symptoms and conditions.
As stated in our disclaimer, this guide is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Please always make sure to consult a podiatrist or physician for proper diagnosis and treatment of these conditions!
Condition: Athlete’s foot happens when feet are trapped in our warm, dark, and moist shoes or hosiery for a long period of time. It’s caused by a fungal infection that commonly attacks the feet, producing dry, scaly skin, itching, redness, inflammation, blisters, itching, and peeling.
Prevention: Wash your feet daily with warm, soapy water, making sure to dry carefully from heel to toe—and between the toes especially! Alternate shoes, socks, and tights regularly to decrease the amount of moisture on your feet, and don’t buy shoes that are too tight.
Condition: Blisters form from skin heat, moisture, and/or friction. They are painful pockets of fluid within the upper layers of your feet’s skin, and are not to be popped. It’s best to protect one with a Band-Aid, especially when the blister breaks on its own, and let it fall off or heal naturally.
Prevention: Make sure your shoes fit properly and are designed for your intended activity. Always be sure to keep your feet dry. Choosing the right socks might help reduce or eliminate blisters: when working out, wear the proper athletic socks, and when standing for long periods of time, compression socks might be best. For women, wearing boots and heels with too bulky of socks might become an issue, so make sure to wear the proper fashion and dress socks.
Condition: Bunions are caused by misaligned big toe joins that become swollen and tender. The misalignment forces the first joint of the big toe slant outward and the big toe slant toward your smaller toes. Bunions tent to run in families, and can also be caused by shoes with pointed toes or that are too small. For less painful bunions, wide shoes, tapping, or padding the soreness might help with relief. Sometimes surgery is needed to relieve pressure and repair the deformity at the base if the big toe.
Prevention: Make sure to wear shoes wide enough at the toe and the instep (the middle part of the foot) to ease pain.
CORNS AND CALLUSES
Condition: Corns most commonly form on the tops or sides of the toes, while calluses usually form on the soles of the feet. Both are protective layers of compacted, dead skin cells that are caused by the repeated friction and pressure of the skin rubbing against bony areas or your shoe. When corns and calluses rub against your shoe, you might feel a burning sensation or other pain. To avoid infection, do not attempt to shave off these formations.
Prevention: Wear shoes that fit better and place like pads in your shoes to help avoid and reduce pain.
Condition: Dry skin can cause itching, peeling, and burning on your feet. Your toes and heels might look ashen or cracked.
Prevention: Use mild soap in small amounts, and don’t place your feet in too hot of water, which contributes to dry skin. Apply foot cream and lotion to your feet and legs daily to give them the proper moisture they need.
Condition: Flat feet, or over-pronation, occur when a person’s arch collapses due to too much weight being placed upon it. This is most common in those that have flexible, flatter feet. As framework of the foot begins to flatten, stress is added to other parts of the foot. This can occur when simply walking, but a majority of causes stem from pregnancy, obesity, or continuous pounding on a hard surface. Flat feet can cause extreme stress, inflammation, severe discomfort and a number of other foot conditions.
Prevention: Choose footwear with a firm heel and arch support for extra stability, and make sure they fit and cushion properly.
Condition: Foot odor is caused by excessive perspiration. Food odor can also be cause by excessive anxiety and various other skin conditions and creates an environment for bacteria and fungus to grow, such as athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.
Prevention: Follow the proper foot hygiene (basic foot care), and change your socks and shoes at least once a day if your feet tend to sweat often. Dusting feet frequently with foot powder might help, and wear thick, soft socks that work to absorb excess moisture. Avoid nylon socks and plastic shoes, and choose shoes with breathable materials such as leather, canvas, or mesh.
Condition: Hammertoe happens when the tendons that control toe movements shorten: as the toe joint grows, the toes are pulled backwards into a claw-like position. Over time, the joint gets bigger and stiffens as it rubs against shoes. This occurs mostly in the smaller toes, and the muscle imbalance is usually caused by shoes or socks that cramp the toes.
Prevention: Leave more space in your shoe or sock, avoid pressure on the toes as much as possible, and see your doctor if your feet are feeling the least bit off balance.
Condition: Heel pain can be caused by too much stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves in that area as a result of walking or jumping on hard surfaces, from ill-fitting shoes, or in some cases, being overweight. Other health conditions such as arthritis, gout, and circulation issues can also cause pain in the heel. Both heel pain and spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation of the long band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of your feet.
Prevention: Place less stress on your feet by placing them up when sitting, wearing the proper shoe and sock support while doing any sort of activity or movement, and try foot exercises to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Condition: These are bony bumps that grow on your foot bones, and like heel pain, are cause by stress on the feet, such as standing for long periods of time, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or being overweight. Spurs can be either painless or excruciating—for the latter, foot supports, heel pads, and heel cups may ease pain. Treatment may involve foot exercises, custom-made cushions and shoes, and/or anti-inflammatory medication and cortisone injections prescribed by your doctor.
Prevention: See Heel Pain prevention.
Condition: This painful condition is caused by a piece of the nail that pierces the skin, and can happen If you don’t cut your toenails straight across to the corner of the nail can be seen above the skin or if they are too long and jagged. These are most common in large toes.
Prevention: Use clippers meant to cut toenails, and follow these proper nail trimming techniques.
Condition: The term “neuromas” comes from the area of the foot it affects the most, the nerve. They are the result of tissue building up around an inflamed nerve inside of the foot. This buildup can cause a tingling, numbing, or painful sensation in the ball of the foot and toes, and may cause you to lose your balance.
Prevention: Avoid shoes that are too narrow or have high heels and keep pressure off of the ball of your foot and toes as much as possible. As always, see your doctor if you are feeling the least bit off balance.
Condition: Swollen feet are usually a result of standing for long period of time and improper circulation to your lower body. It might be a sign of more serious health problems if your feet and ankle stay swollen for an extended amount of time. Feet tend to swell more often when a high amount of weight and stress are placed up on them, and is a common condition during pregnancy. For more information on what causes ankle swelling during pregnancy and what you can do about it, read this article.
Prevention: Give your feet a rest, and avoid standing for long periods. To help with circulation, put your feet up when sitting down and massage them regularly. Also, keep your legs uncrossed, don’t smoke, and drink plenty of fluids.
Condition: These are caused after a virus enters the skin through small cuts and scratches in the feet. Children and adolescents ages 12-16 years tend to be the most susceptible to warts, and mostly can be contracted from walking barefoot on dirty surfaces. Plantar warts grow on the sole of the foot, and tend to form in areas of pressure and friction. Normal standing and walking forces them into the skin, and the pressure can be very painful. Although painful, most warts are harmless unless they affect your ability to walk, and may go away without treatment.
Prevention: Refrain from using public showers and be cautious of public swimming pools, and wear protective flip flops when you do attend these places. Always wear shoes when you are walking on dirty or public surfaces, especially at the gym or during athletic activities. For treatment, consult a doctor.
Foot Pain Identifier
Foot ailments are among the most common of physical health problems. Do you have a spot on your foot that’s throbbing, itching, aching, or sore but just can’t put your finger on what might be wrong? Let these foot pain identifiers help locate and ease the pain.
- General Pain Identifier: http://foot.com/info/info_pain_identifier.jsp
- Extensive Foot Education: http://www.footeducation.com/foot-pain-identifier
Looking for More?
Foot diseases, disorders, and disabilities can greatly affect your quality of life. For more information on foot ailments, explore this complete list of foot conditions and treatments, including serious issues like Achilles Tendonitis, Arthritis, and The Diabetic Foot. A glossary of all foot terms can be found here.
Take a look at the following reputable sources for more information on foot health:
- The American Podiatric Medical Association: http://www.apma.org/
- Today’s Podiatrist: http://www.todayspodiatrist.co/
- Web MD: http://www.webmd.com/
- Active.com: http://www.active.com/
- The Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/
- Foot.com: http://www.foot.com/