Athlete’s Foot – This is a skin disease that usually starts between the toes and can spread to other parts of the foot and body. It is caused by a fungus which most commonly attacks the feet because the warm, dark humidity of shoes fosters fungus growth. The signs of athlete’s foot are drying skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blisters. You can prevent infection by washing your feet daily in soap and warm water; drying carefully, especially between the toes; and changing shoes and hose regularly to decrease moisture.
Blisters – This are caused by skin friction and moisture. Don’t pop them. Apply moleskin or a Band-Aid over a blister, and leave it on until it falls off naturally in the bath or shower. Keep your feet dry and wear a layer of socks as a cushion between your feet and shoes. If a blister breaks on its own, wash the area, apply an antiseptic, and cover with a sterile bandage.
Bunions – These are misaligned big-toe joins which become swollen and tender. The deformity causes the first joint of the big toe to slant outward, and the second join to angle toward the other toes. Bunions tend to be inherited, but the tendency can be aggravated by shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot and toe. There are conservative and preventative steps which can minimize the discomfort of a bunion, but surgery is frequently recommended to correct the problem.
Corns and Calluses – These are protective layers of compacted, dead cells. They are caused by repeated friction and pressure from skin rubbing against bony areas or against an irregularity in a shoe. Corns ordinarily form on the toes and calluses on the soles of the feet, but both can occur on either surface. The friction and pressure can burn or otherwise be painful and may be relieved by applying moleskin on the affected areas. Never cut corns or calluses with any instrument, and never apply home remedies, except under a podiatrist’s instructions.
Ingrown Nails – These are nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into the skin. They are frequently caused by improper nail trimming, but also by shoe pressure, injury, fungus infection, poor foot structure, and heredity. Toenails should be trimmed straight across, slightly longer than the end of the toe, with toenail clippers.
For more information on foot-health conditions and concerns, visit the American Podiatric Medical Association website or contact them by phone.