Feet are one of the hardest working parts of the body and in a lifetime you will walk in excess of 150,000 miles which is about five times around the world. As a result, foot problems are common and if untreated can cause discomfort and wider health problems.
As part of its annual Feet for Life month in June 2013, The College of Podiatry ilooked to raise awareness of common foot complaints. The College is encouraging people to become more foot aware and not be embarrassed about seeking help where needed.
Some of the most common foot problems that can cause embarrassment include foot odour, verrucae, corns and callus, fungal infections, ingrowing toenails, bunions and cracked heels.
Podiatrist Lorraine Jones said: “Our feet are one of the most neglected parts of our body, but it’s important to keep an eye on them and to know what’s normal for you so you can spot any problems. Feet are not supposed to hurt so if you do experience ongoing pain then you need to have this investigated. Don’t be embarrassed about seeking professional help, it’s a podiatrist’s job to treat feet so there will be nothing we haven’t seen before. Follow our tips to spot some of the symptoms of common foot problems so you don’t have to suffer in silence or hide your feet away in the summer!”
Common foot problems
- Foot odour: to keep foot odour at bay, wash feet at least once a day and dry carefully between the toes. Wear clean socks made from at least 70% cotton or wool. Alternate shoes daily to allow them to dry out. If odour persists try an antibacterial soap.
- Verrucae: a verruca is a type of wart that looks like a small, dark puncture mark in the early stages but later turns grey or brown. It’s contagious through direct contact. You can buy over-the-counter remedies from your pharmacy; ask for products with salicylic acid. If at any stage your verruca becomes painful and the surrounding skin goes red, stop treating immediately and see a podiatrist.
- Corns and calluses: corns and calluses occur as a result of pressure on the foot. Corns appear over a bony prominence such as a joint and a callus usually occurs on the sole of the foot. Do not cut corns yourself and don’t use corn plasters or paints which can burn the healthy tissue around the corns. Commercially available cures should only be used following professional advice. Calluses can usually be kept at bay by using a pumice stone or non metal foot file gently in the bath.
- Fungal infections: fungal infections such as athletes foot can lead to intense itching, cracked, blistered or peeling areas of the skin. If left untreated it can spread to the toenails causing thickening and yellowing of the nail. Fungal infections are highly contagious so avoid handling and do not use the same towel for your feet as the rest of your body. You can buy over the counter remedies but nail infections do not often respond to topical treatments so you may need oral medication. See a podiatrist if your infection persists.
- Ingrowing toenails: ingrowing toenails pierce the flesh of the toe and can be extremely painful and lead to further infection. They most commonly affect the big toenail but can affect other toes too. To reduce risk use nail cutters and cut nails straight across and don’t cut too low at the edge or down the side. If you have an ingrowing toenail, see a podiatrist who can remove the offending spike of nail and cover with an antiseptic dressing. If you have bleeding or discharge, you may require antibiotics.
- Bunions: a bunion is a condition where the big toe is angled excessively towards the second toe and a bony prominence develops on the side of the big toe. Contrary to popular belief, bunions are not solely caused by shoes. They are caused by a defective mechanical structure of the foot which is genetic, although footwear can contribute to a bunion developing. Some treatments can ease the pain of bunions such as padding in the shoes, but only surgery can correct the defect. To avoid exacerbating a bunion, try not to wear narrow shoes with pointed toes. If you experience frequent pain, see a podiatrist.
- Cracked heels: cracked heels can be extremely painful and occur where the skin has become dry or has experienced excessive pressure. To prevent them moisturise regularly and use a pumice stone or non-metal file in the bath or shower. If the problem worsens see a podiatrist as some severe cases can require strapping of the cracks in order to allow the feet to heal.
Call the Athlone Foot Clinic in the Athlone Primary care centre, Clonbrusk for treatment & assessment. Contact us by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0851911271
Taken from UK POD SOCIETY: http://www.scpod.org/foot-health/foot-health-focus/dont-be-embarrassed-about-feet-urge-podiatrists/