A bunion is commonly understood to be a bony bump at the base of the big toe that causes that toe to lean inward and crowd against the others. Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but a common cause is wearing shoes that fit too tightly. They can also develop as a result of inheritance, stress on your foot or arthritis. Treatments are aimed at temporary pain relief and can include: changes in shoe wear, pads for cushioning, medication, icing, orthopedic devices, and activity modification. If non-surgical treatments fail to relieve bunion pain and when the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, surgery may be a necessary measure to take.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are most always caused by excessive rubbing, usually from a tight or poorly fitted shoe. This Friction causes the thick, hardened, dead skin of corns and calluses, which form to protect sensitive skin. Appearing cone–shaped, corns point into the skin, and usually occur on areas that bear little weight. Calluses may appear anywhere there’s friction, and are more diffuse. Moleskin pads can help relieve a corn; calluses can be trimmed or surgically corrected.
A form of arthritis, gout is characterized by sudden pain, redness, swelling, and stiffness, usually in the large joint of the big toe. Gout can also occur in the foot, ankle, or knees, and is caused by too much uric acid (UA) in the blood, which can form hard crystals in joints. Attacks can last days or weeks, and may be treated with anti–inflammatories or UA–lowering medication. Talk to your doctor about diet changes that help break down UA.
A fungal infection that can cause peeling, redness, itching, burning, and sometimes blisters and sores, athlete’s foot is mildly contagious, passed by direct contact or by walking barefoot in areas such as locker rooms, or near pools. The fungi then grow in shoes, especially tight ones without air circulation. Athlete’s foot is usually treated with topical antifungal lotions or oral medications for more severe cases.
Plantar warts have the appearance of thick, scaly skin. They can occur as small, single warts or can cluster into large areas on the soles of the feet. Moist, sweaty feet can predispose you to infection by the wart virus. They’re caused by a virus that enters through broken skin, and they can be picked up in showers and around swimming pools. Treatment consists of burning the wart with topical salicylic acids, freezing with liquid nitrogen, laser surgery or cutting them off — all of which do not guarantee that warts will not return. Surgery is a method that provides a less chance of reoccurrence.
When toe muscles get out of balance, they can cause painful toe problems. While some people are prone to hammertoe, other risks include tight footwear. Hammertoe generally causes the middle joint of the toe to bend downward, with toes appearing raised near the foot. Well–fitted footwear with the correct amount of space in the toe box, shoe supports, and surgery may offer relief.
A toenail that has grown into the skin, an ingrown toenail can result in pain, redness, swelling, even infection. Cutting nails too short or not straight across, injury to the toenail, and wearing tight shoes are culprits. For mild cases, soak the foot in warm water, keep it clean, and wedge a small piece of cotton under the corner of the ingrown nail to lift it off the skin. Minor surgery can remove all or part of the nail.
Fungal Nail Infection
Occurring when microscopic fungi enter through a break in the nail, a fungal infection can make your nails thick, discolored and brittle. If left untreated, the nail infection won’t go away — and can be hard to treat. Thriving in warm, wet places, the fungi can be spread from person to person. Topical creams may help mild cases but antifungal pills are your best chance of curing a severe infection.
Just because you have flat feet does not mean you will have problems or pain. If you do have pain, there are various treatment options available. If you only have one foot that has a flat arch, it may be due to another problem and you should get it checked out. Flatfoot is characterized by the sole of the foot coming into complete or near–complete contact with the ground. It may be inherited, caused by an injury, or by a condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Flatfoot symptoms are rare, though weight gain, ill–fitting shoes, or excessive standing may cause pain. Treatment includes foot–strengthening exercises, and shoes with good arch support.