Common Foot Problems

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In order to keep your feet healthy, you should be familiar with the most common ills and problems that affect them. Following are the common foot problems.

Athlete's foot is a skin disease, usually starting between the toes or on the bottom of the feet, which can spread to other parts of the body. It is caused by a fungus, which most commonly attacks the feet because the wearing of shoes and hosiery fosters fungus growth. The signs of athlete's foot are dry scaly skin, itching, inflammation, and blisters. You can help prevent infection by washing your feet daily with soap and warm water; drying carefully, especially between the toes; and changing shoes and socks regularly to decrease moisture.

Blisters are caused by skin friction and wearing bad fitting shoes. Don't pop them. Apply 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 always wear 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.

Corns and calluses are protective layers of compacted, dead skin cells. A corn is simply made up of hard skin that occurs over a bony prominence such as a joint. 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. The friction and pressure can burn or otherwise be painful and may be relieved by moleskin on the affected areas. Never cut corns or calluses with any instrument, and never apply home remedies, except under a podiatrist's instructions.

Foot odor results from excessive perspiration from the more than 250,000 sweat glands in the foot. Daily hygiene is essential. Change your shoes daily to let each pair air out, and change your socks, perhaps even more frequently than daily. Foot powders and antiperspirants, and soaking in vinegar and water, can help lessen odor. For minor problems wash feet morning and evening in warm, soapy water, and then dry thoroughly. You can also use an antibacterial wash, which helps deal with foot odour, too. Then apply surgical spirit and dust the feet with talc. Going barefoot whenever you can will help, as will wearing open-toed sandals.

Heel pain can generally be traced to faulty biomechanics, which place too much stress on the heel bone or nerves in the area. Stress could result while walking or jumping on hard surfaces, or from poorly made footwear. Some general health conditions like arthritis, gout, and circulatory problems, also cause heel pain.

Ingrown nails 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, heredity, and poor foot structure. Toenails should be trimmed straight across, slightly longer than the end of the toe, with toenail clippers.

Neuromas are enlarged, benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by bones and other tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves, whose anatomy at that location is unusual. Abnormal bone structure or pressure from ill-fitting shoes also can create the condition, which can result in pain, burning, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot. Surgical removal of the growth is sometimes necessary.

Warts are caused by a virus, which enters the skin through small cuts and infects the skin. Children, especially teenagers, tend to be more susceptible to warts than adults. Most warts are harmless and benign, even though painful and unsightly. Warts often come from walking barefooted on dirty surfaces or littered ground. There are several simple surgical procedures, which your podiatric physician might use to remove warts.

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