Our feet are certainly an evolutionary marvel which are capable of holding our weight even while we’re moving around, and how all of their parts harmoniously work together to get us moving to different places.
The feet may be the most abused part because they endure most of the stress – they do the work of carrying our weight and taking us from one place to another, every single day. This will put our feet at great risk to pain, soreness and injury. Yet, the feet are often the most ignored part of our body, and many of us do not bother taking care of them. This results to several foot problems and conditions, which can go worse if we do not address them immediately.
1. Athlete’s foot
One of the common problems of the feet is athlete’s foot, which is also known as tinea pedis. This is caused by a fungus that loves to huddle in dark, damp areas such as the space between your toes or the soles of your feet.
Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include a white, scaly rash which usually causes a stinging and burning sensation. It can give off an unpleasant odor as well. If all the itching and pain might make your life really terrible, what’s worse about having an athlete’s foot is that it is also contagious. It can be spread through wet floors, mats and rugs as well as shared towels, socks, footwear and clothing. The more frightening is that the fungus can spread to other parts of your body.
Cure: Over-the-counter anti-fungal creams and sprays are typically used as a treatment for athlete’s foot.
- Keep your feet totally dry, especially between the toes.
- Change your shoes and socks often
- Wear appropriate shoes, and avoid ill-fitting ones
- Protect your feet especially in public places
- Do not share shoes, socks, towels, etc.
If you have unusually bent or crooked middle toes (your second, third or fourth), then you might have a condition called the hammertoe. Ill-fitting shoes are the main culprit of this condition, such as high heels or shoes that leave little space for the toes. Since hammertoes are permanently bent, other problems such as corns and callouses often follow.
Cure: Physical therapy is one of the usually recommended treatments to address this condition. Wearing new shoes that have enough boxes for the toes can also solve this problem. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Prevention: Early on, avoid wearing excessively high heels or ill-fitting shoes.
Blisters are also one of the common feet problems. Blisters are pockets of fluid which form on certain areas of the body, especially those that experience friction, soreness, burning, fungi, or any other factors.
Blisters can vary in size and causes may differ from one case to another. In this case, ill-fitting shoes are the main reason why there are blisters in the feet; fungi are also one of the causes of blistering. Blisters do not only make your feet look ugly, but they also make walking a great pain.
Cure: Just leave the blister alone – it will soon dry out and harden, then you may peel off the dead skin or gently rub it off. Until this happens, a blister may be painful depending on the size – or when you pick at it or puncture it.
If you do have to puncture the blister and drain it, here’s what you should do:
- Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap.
- Clean the area of your foot (where the blister is) thoroughly.
- Use a clean and sterilized needle to make a small puncture on the blister to allow the fluid to drain out of it.
- Apply an antibacterial cream or ointment to the punctured blister.
- Cover the area with a bandage.
If the blisters “pops out” on its own, you should also follow the same above-mentioned steps.
Prevention: Early on, avoid wearing excessively high heels or ill-fitting shoes to avoid blistering.
A bunion refers to the deformity of the toe joint, which gives it a crooked appearance. Bunions have a variety of causes which include: wearing tight and ill-fitting shoes, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and even family history.
Cure: Conservative treatments like over-the-counter pain medications are used to cure bunions. Rest, changes in footwear, applying ice in the affected area and special supporting foot paddings are also used to alleviate the symptoms. If these measures do not work, surgery is the last option to correct the actual deformity of the foot.
5. Corns and callouses
Corns and callouses are raised and thickened area of your feet, most particularly on the tops or sides of the toes. They are usually caused by pressure, friction or rubbing. Wearing tight shoes is often the main culprit.
Not only corns and callouses make your feet looking ugly, but they can also make walking a torture. But there’s a good side of them: since they are dead skin cells, corns and callouses actually protect the tender part of your foot’s skin from all the friction and pounding against the toes.
But to those who find callouses painful and want to get rid of them, do not attempt to remove them by yourself and instead consult a podiatrist. You may also want to place some protective padding around the areas of your feet that are affected by this condition.
6. Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the common causes of heel pain – it mostly occurs in the morning or after a long period of rest, where the pain is usually at its most piercing and severe.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the “plantar fascia,” which is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. The plantar fascia acts as your foot’s shock absorber. But when your feet feel too much pressure and tension, there is a chance that your plantar fascia may experience inflammation and tearing.
Causes of plantar fasciitis may include: Age, certain types of exercise or too much of it, flat feet, arc on the feet that’s too high, obesity, and certain occupations that require a lot of standing and moving around.
If you keep on ignoring plantar fasciitis, it can create severe and chronic pain which prevents you from doing your normal activities.
Cure and prevention: Apply some exercise that will help stretch the plantar fascia as well as the Achilles tendon – these will prevent this condition from happening again. Applying ice can also help in relieving some symptoms.
Foot massage machines are also recommended to treat plantar fasciitis and even help in improving the condition of your feet. There are many foot massage machines available, from the simplest and least complicated (like the foot massage ball or foot log massager) to the most advanced (such as vibration foot massagers).