Considering that the College of Podiatry states that humans walk what is estimated to be 150,000 miles during their lives, which would be equivalent to walking around the world six times, is it any wonder that the 26 bones in each foot may be subject to malfunctions? There are many reasons that foot problems occur. Some examples are actual injuries, inflammation, daily abuse, aging, diabetes, improper footwear, and more. Following are just some of the common problems with their descriptions and recommended treatments.
They occur if a toenail begins growing into the nail groove, and that can cause discomfort, pain, swelling, redness, or infection. They are caused by shoes that are badly-fitting, too narrow, have a pointy tip, or are too tight and pressure is put on the toes. Ingrown toenails also can occur when toenails are not trimmed properly or are cut too short or can be caused by running, jumping, and other activities.
Even having a family history increases the risk. Treatment and prevention include keeping feet clean using antibacterial soap, cutting the toenails straight across and not in a rounded pattern, and cutting them after a bath when the nails are soft.
That is usually caused by walking barefoot in damp areas such as a gym, pool, or shower or wearing damp and warm shoes. It is a fungal infection, usually between the toes, and is highly contagious. The infection can spread and cause significant discomfort, pain, itching, blistering, cracking, and peeling. As women are more likely to wear sandals, slip-ons, and other sock-less shoes, they can be particularly at risk.
Keep the feet clean and dry them with their separate towel. Available antifungal treatments include sprays, lotions, and powders. If the fungus spreads or worsens after treatment, see a podiatrist who can prescribe stronger oral antifungal medicines, if necessary. If at-home care does not improve a foot condition or if a fungus is spreading, you should see a podiatrist.
Diabetes causes blood sugar fluctuations, and high levels can damage nerves especially in the feet. Other factors can include alcoholism, smoking, or a history of diabetic neuropathy in one’s family. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and tingling. This is especially problematic for women, as women have much lower circulation to their extremities than men do. Treatment includes going for regular foot exams, having toenails professionally trimmed, and getting recommended treatments suggested or prescribed by the podiatrist.
Bunions are abnormalities that cause a developing bump on the large toe joint and can cause the big toe to turn somewhat inward, make a bump on the side of a foot, cause pain and tenderness, and more. Women are more likely to have them because of increased pressures from narrow and/or tight footwear. Other risk factors include rheumatoid arthritis or having bunions in your family history.
Treatment is wearing shoes that fit properly, not wearing high heels, using a bunion pad that protects the bunion from pressure, and applying ice with a cloth-covered ice pack in increments of 10 minutes that can reduce inflammation. A podiatrist could prescribe shoe inserts that are custom-made or a splint that can try to straighten the big toe, or surgery if that becomes necessary.
Any time that you find yourself facing a serious foot problem, whether it’s neuropathy or just an ingrown toenail, it’s best to see a podiatrist as soon as possible. Attempting to treat your own condition, especially when regarding feet, can make the condition worse and cause other problems.