Your feet are an important part of your body. In fact, according to heathline, it’s estimated that people typically average walking around 75,000 miles by the age of 50. Between work, being at home, exercising or even on vacation, you are always using your feet. And because of all the wear and tear over the years, you might start to see your feet take on some damage.
Luckily, there are ways to keep common foot problems at bay. And, if it’s something that requires a specialist, a Podiatrist – also known as a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) – is someone who treats the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg.
Most common foot problems
When your feet are in pain, it’s typically something you’ll want to address rather quickly – especially if you have a job that requires you to be on your feet often. Feet problems are pretty common since they get a lot of wear and tear, so it’s good to address the issue head on and get some help.
According to heathline, here are a few common foot problems that you may encounter and how to treat them:
- Athlete’s foot
- If your feet or toes become itchy, start to sting or burn, this may be a sign of athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot happens after you make contact with fungus, usually in wet environments such as locker rooms, public showers and swimming pools. The condition is contagious and you may also experience foot blisters, crumbly toenails and cracked, dry and raw skin on your feet.
- Athlete’s foot can be tough to treat, but you can start with an over-the-counter product to see if that helps. If not, you may need a doctor’s prescription to clear it up.
- Blisters are common among people who have to walk or stand for long periods of time, have not-so-great fitting shoes and/or have sweaty feet. These raised pockets of fluid on your feet generally aren’t considered a serious condition and can be treated from home. You can place a bandage over the blister and try to let the blister heal naturally. Healthline recommends only draining the blister yourself when necessary and to do it with sterile equipment; If you do decide to drain it, then you should keep it covered with a bandage and use antibiotic ointment as it heals.
- Bunions & Corns
- Have you ever noticed a bump on the side of your big toe? This may be a bunion. Having bunions, or your big toe bending towards your other toes, can make it painful to walk and may cause inflammation and irritation on your big and second toe. Getting shoes that fit properly and OTC pain relievers might be the solution you need; however, you may need to go to the doctor and get medical advice.
- Hammer toe, bunions or poor fitting shoes may be the cause of corns, which are round circles of thickened skin on your toes or the sole of your foot. OTC treatments like corn plasters may help relieve pressure, but your doctor may even recommend surgery to remove it.
- Heel Spur
- Heel spurs can be painful, inflamed, bony protrusions at the front of the heel and typically occur because of a calcium deposit that grows between your heel and arch.
- If you suspect that you have a heel spur, you should rest your feet, evaluate your footwear and see a doctor if you feel pain in your heel.
- Due to too much uric acid in your body, you might experience gout, which often affects your feet. You could feel pain in the affected area and many describe the pain as though your foot is on fire.
- Gout can occur in many forms and in four stages, however, it can come and go and develop in different ways. It’s most commonly found in men between 40 and 50 years old and in postmenopausal women. You can go see a doctor, who can treat gout and recommend healthy lifestyle habits to manage symptoms.
- Ingrown Toenail
- There are many reasons why you might have an ingrown toe; a few to name would be because you have nails that curve, poorly trimmed nails, compressed toes or even an injury to the toe. Genetics can even play a role in ingrown toenails, which is when the toenail grows into the surrounding skin.
- Usually ingrown toenails can be treated at home with warm soaks, pain relievers and topical antibiotics; however, more severe ingrown toenails may not heal on their own and should be treated by a doctor who may even recommend surgery to remove the ingrown toenail.
- Fungal Nail Infection
- Have you ever noticed scales or streaking, crumbling, flaking or yellow spots on your toenails? This might be a sign of a fungal infection, which can occur from fungi entering your toenail because of its moist environment.
- You can even get fungus because of a medical condition like diabetes, exposure to contaminated nail instruments, and use of a public place like a swimming pool or locker room or a skin injury near your toenail. There are antifungal medications available with and without a prescription.
- Plantar Wart
- A plantar wart is a wart on the bottom of your foot that is caused by human papillomavirus and is transmitted in moist environments like locker rooms and swimming pools.
- The good news is that plantar warts are very treatable. Sometimes they even go away on their own, but most of the time you’ll need to treat them at home with products containing salicylic acid. However, if the situation doesn’t get better with OTC remedies, you should see a doctor.
The foot problems above are just a few examples of common, everyday issues that many people face. But when does it become severe enough to see a doctor? Per healthline, foot conditions can vary in type, symptoms and severity, and you should see a doctor when the condition affects your normal daily routines or if your home-based treatments don’t seem to be doing the job.
Once your feet are back to being as good as new, let’s go over some ways to keep those feet kicking in the right direction.
How to keep your feet healthy
If you are often on your feet – usually for a job or maybe you’re chasing after a toddler all day – then you know the importance of keeping your feet healthy. It’s easy to just let life get ahead of us and not stop to think about taking care of our feet. So, what are some good ways to take care of them?
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), good foot hygiene is essential, especially when you tend to have extra sweaty feet. Excessive sweating of the feet is actually called hyperhidrosis and is more common in men than in women. Here are a few tips that you can use to help keep your feet clean, especially if you feel that your feet are a little sweatier than the average person:
- Wash your feet daily with antibacterial soap, and be sure to wash between the toes
- Once your feet are nice and clean, be sure to dry them thoroughly
- If you feet tend to sweat more than normal, try applying cornstarch, foot powder or an antifungal powder after they are nice and dry
- Wear wicking socks made of natural or acrylic fiber blends that draw the moisture away from your feet instead of trapping it
- It’s also a good idea to change your socks during the day; keep an extra pair of socks at school or at work and change mid-day
At the end of the day, your feet are an essential part of your body that keeps you moving in the right direction. If you have common foot problems that start to bother you, try doing your research and seeing if it’s something that’s treatable at home. If not, schedule your appointment with your local podiatrist to get to the bottom of it.